SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 26, 2012

Rise again

Just for Kicks
Gianna Addario

---- — BEVERLY — It wasn’t that long ago that the Beve rly boys soccer team was a sure bet for the state tournament. The Panthers even reached the Division 1 North final in 2002 and made six straight postseason appearances between 2001-06.

Their ultimate goal for the 2012 campaign is restoring their place among playoff contenders.

“Our motto at the beginning of the season has been ‘rise again,’” said senior captain

Conor Leahy. “We’re trying to bring the program back to the way it used to be when we were winning (Northeastern Conference) championships. Hopefully we can bring it back. I think we’re off to a pretty good start so far.”

The Panthers recorded their fourth victory of the season on Monday against Revere. Having already doubled its win total from last year, Beverly stands at a confident 4-1-2 overall. A big change in the team comes with the ability to forget about what’s happened during the last half decade and focus on making this season one to remember. ”There’s a whole new attitude, nobody remembers what happened last year,” said head coach

Kevin Leahy, now in his 10th year at Beverly. “We play physical, tough and smart. Coach Vigliotta and I are very happy with the way the boys have been playing.”

One factor that will continue to bring the Panthers success is their ability to utilize the entire field. If they can continue to spread the offense around, there’s no denying they’ll be a formidable opponent come playoff time.

”There’s no team tougher than us,” said senior captain

Dylan Perry. “Last year we were just jamming the ball down the middle and that didn’t work out real well for us. We’re playing together as a team now and spreading the field out and it’s really attributing to our success. We’re looking to do some damage in the playoffs.”

Perry, Leahy and senior

Cam Rogers

hold down the leadership role as tri-captains and carry much of the offensive load. Leahy, last year’s NEC North MVP, led the Panthers in scoring with 14 goals and eight assists last fall.

Rogers and Leahy usually play in the midfield, but have been called upon to move up to the forward line to generate scoring chances. Though the burden of scoring usually rests on the shoulders of the older kids, the Panthers are using their team chemistry and toughness to put points on the board.

“We’re feeling pretty confident and we think we can even make the tournament,” added Conor Leahy. “Right now we’re just focused on possibly winning the conference. We don’t really have the most talent. I think it’s just a bunch of guys that know how to work together and play as a team.”

If Beverly wants the string of victories to continue, the extra push in games is a must. Coach Leahy was happy with Monday’s win, but said Revere played like the better team.

“I really felt as though we should’ve gone in and controlled the game,” said Leahy. “As a matter of fact, I think Revere controlled the game. That’s a little frustrating, but we’ll take the win and keep smiling. It’s nice to hear people talking positive about the program.”

The Black-and-Orange are off until Saturday’s game against Gloucester, but Tuesday’s matchup against Danvers will be a huge test to see just how far they’ve come.

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Game to Watch: Tomorrow’s NEC showdown between Marblehead girls and visiting Danvers should be one of best matchups of the week. Danvers is coming into the game at 3-1-2 while the Magicians remain undefeated at 3-0-2. Both teams are undefeated in conference play (2-0).

Sophomore

Mia Bonjiorno

has been on fire offensively for Marblehead, netting another two goals against Winthrop on Monday and will go up against a strong Falcon defense.

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The Swampscott boys team has played the early portion of its schedule shorthanded with senior captain Erick Verdu

sitting on the sidelines. Verdu is out 3-4 weeks with a strained lateral collateral ligament (LCL), and the Big Blue have been fighting hard to stay afloat.

Swampscott came through with its first win last night, a 2-0 decision over Winthrop to move to 1-3-2.

The Big Blue have been trying to get their goalie situation in order, working with two new keepers to start the season — senior

Val Temin and junior Evin Scourtas.

”We’re working with both of them right now and both are new to the sport,” said head coach

Eric Robinson. “We’re looking to build upon what they’ve done so far. It’s hard when you go down in the first half, but at the same time I need to be able give both of them a look.”

Temin got the start yesterday and made seven saves for the shutout.

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Speaking of Swampscott, if you missed last Thursday’s game against Danvers, you missed Eric Martin

scoring his 100th point as a member of the Falcons.

The senior midfielder and captain had four goals and one assist to solidify his milestone in school history.

”It’s a dream come true to be able to coach a kid like Eric,” said Danvers head coach

Mike Chase. “When I first saw Eric play during his freshman year, I was actually a coach at Swampscott. To see him from another teams perspective you kind of admire a kid like him and his athletic ability. I’m excited for him and his future and what’s to come beyond Danvers High.”

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Just For Kicks, a column on North Shore high school soccer, appears every Wednesday in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Gianna Addario at 978-338-2615, GAddario@salemnews.com and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.