PEABODY — For the first 70 minutes Monday night, it was scoreless.
Just when it was starting to look like neither team would score, though, the rains came. When they did, Bishop Fenwick senior captain Elani Gikas scored soon thereafter to give her team a 1-0 win over their arch rivals from St. Mary’s of Lynn.
It was the second time this season that the Crusadsers (now 8-3) defeated the Spartans by one goal.
St. Mary’s held the edge in the first half before Fenwick started to put pressure on Spartan junior goalie Eliza Brown. She made some great saves to keep the game scoreless until Gikas took a high shot that sailed into the top of the net, just under the crossbar.
“Coach (Steve Flaherty) told me to keep taking shots and be patient, because one would go in,” said Gikas, who is from Peabody. “Getting that one really feels good. The ball was wet and we had momentum, so I wanted to be sure it hit on the net. If it didn’t go in, I hoped there would be a rebound for somebody else to crash in.”
St. Mary’s (now 6-6) brought everybody up trying to get the equalizer in the closing minutes, but the Crusaders’ defense prevented them from cashing in.
“It’s a good win,” Flaherty acknowledged. “They put a lot of pressure on us, especially in the first half. We’re going to have to win games like this the rest of the way, so it’s a good feeling to pull this one out — even though it gave me an ulcer.”
Earlier, Gikas had a perfect through ball to set up freshman Alison Mitchell in the 26th minute, but Brown made an aggressive move to come out of the net to smother the ball. Every time Fenwick threatened, Brown was there to break up the opportunity. One of her best saves of the night came late in the first half on a shot by Emma Burke.
At the other end, Fenwick keeper Claudia Keith turned aside shots from St. Mary’s speedsters Kayla Demers and Susannah Cornell, a junior midfielder from Salem.
Flaherty’s halftime speech fired up the Fenwick girls, who came out and applied a lot of pressure in the Spartans’ end from that point forward. Katie Dunn had a couple of chances early, and Mitchell made a nifty cross only to have Maddie Csogi ring one off the post. Brown had a lot of help from sweeper Morgan Mackey of Salem in turning aside threats.
In the 49th minute Brown denied Dunn on a strong bid, and then Keith came up big at the other end by robbing Oliva Egan in the 53rd minute of play.
The Crusaders swarmed Keith when the whistle sounded to end the game.
“That was a great goal by Elani,” said Flaherty. “Csogi had a strong game at striker and Bella DelVecchio and Bella Fabbo played well in the middle.
“This year we don’t have a lot of high scoring strikers so we need to score by committee. It was a team effort.”