PEABODY — There are only three seniors on the Danvers High field hockey squad, but while they lack numbers, the senior captains are all quality players with exceptional skills.
All three figured in the scoring as the Falcons blanked Peabody 7-0 in their opening game at Coley Lee Field. Ella Brinkley collected a pair of goals, Emma Thibodeau had one and Maddie Butler chipped in with an assist.
Sophomore Grace Brinkley put the Falcons on the board with an unassisted tally off Peabody goalie Sydney Branga's pads with seven minutes gone in the game, and her sister Ella capped the scoring with a well placed penalty stroke with six minutes left later on.
"Last year we had a real problem scoring so it's nice to see balls in the net," said Falcon coach Jill McGinnity. "So many people contributed to the win, and it's a great way to open with a shutout. I have to credit Peabody for never giving up and fighting right to the end."
It was all Danvers in the first half and by intermission they had built up 5-0 lead. Butler set up freshman Sadie Papamechail on second goal off one of eight first half corner opportunities two minutes after Brinkley's tally. The Falcons kept constant pressure on in front of Branga, and freshman Katherine Purcell made it 3-0 after being set up by Sabrina Auciello.
The Brinkley sisters combined on the fourth goal with Grace passing to Ella, and then Thibodeau collected a pass from Papamechail, and found the back of the net with three minutes remaining in the half.
"We like playing together," said Grace Brinkley, who had a goal and an assist. "Everybody on the team is really connecting."
"Having a lot of different scorers is a morale booster," added her sister. "We're really hoping to have a good season, and this is a nice way to start."
Peabody did a much better job generating some offense in the second half. Junior forwards Dado Nasso and Elise Staunton used speed and good passing to create some threats. Nasso was able to break through the defense to go in alone on Falcon goalie Brigid Churchill, but was unable to finish seven minutes into the second half.
"If we could come out right from the start the way we did in the second half we would have been in the game," said second year Peabody coach Tawny Palmieri. "We did the same thing in our first game with Ipswich (4-0 loss). We only let up one goal in the second half and two today, but you have to be ready right from the start.
"We need to make the adjustments we did later on right from the get go. If we can do that we'll be in a lot of games. Dado is stronger this year and has improved so much about not fouling, but still needs to work on finishing. Staunton is another one who has improved her skills a lot. I was pleased with the play of both (goalies) Branga and Kylie Colella. Both made some big saves, and I might flip flop them using one in the first half and the other in the second depending on how things go."
The Tanners only had three corners in the game while Danvers was awarded 15. Palmieri said her team is a work in progress, and has to focus on getting better.
Jenessa Marchegiani scored an unassisted goal for the Falcons late in the game. Both teams subbed freely in the second half, getting a look at a lot of different players.
"We moved the ball around well with some nice passes, and worked as a team," said McGinnity. "Grace Brikley is very skilled and opens up the field for us by creating space. It was also nice to see freshmen Katherine Purcell and Sadie Papamechail figure in the scoring with their first goals."