DANVERS — For 79 minutes Monday night, the Danvers and Peabody High boys soccer teams battled to a scoreless draw.
But with time running gout, Peabody’s Oscar Mejia made sure it wouldn’t end that way.
Tanner captain Kyle Morfis took a throw in and put the ball right in front for Mejia, who was alone and waiting for it. He wasted no time kicking the ball into the net as his teammates celebrated their eventual 1-0 victory at Morse Field.
“Our defense was the key to the win,” said Peabody head coach Stan McKeen after his club’s season opening triumph. “I thought we would generate more offense, but it was a real struggle until the last 15 minutes when we moved the ball better.
“It’s so nice to walk out of here with two points instead of one.”
Mike Chase, who is back for his third go-round as the Falcons’ head coach, was admittedly down after the last minute setback.
“This is a very difficult finish for us,” he said. “We had a mental lapse in the back. You can’t let the ball bounce that close to your goal.”
For both teams, good scoring opportunities were hard to come by for most of the evening. Falcons’ junior goalkeeper Ryan Overberg had handled everything that came his way, but ultimately had no chance on the winning goal.
“Our captain Kyle is great on long throws, and I was the only guy at the far post. So I knew I would have a good chance,” said Mejia. “It all came down to fundamentals. I didn’t want to hit the ball too hard and miss from that close. It was all about position; wide on the post.”
In the closing seconds freshman Victor Maciel almost gave the visitors an insurance goal, but rang one off the post to Overberg’s left.
McKeen tried to fire up his team at halftime because he was disappointed with the way they were getting beaten to the ball. His message was received, and in the first minute of play after intermission Banangoy Kyanga drilled a high shot on Overberg, who made a great save.
“He was outstanding all game,” said Chase of his netminder. “Ryan came up big and had no chance on their goal.
“Peabody is a strong team, and I would’ve been happy if the game ended in a tie. I felt the defense was outstanding. (Senior captains) Declan Quinn and center back Mohammad Elhadidy had strong games for us.”
Danvers is still looking for its first win of the season after tying Austin Prep in its opener and losing to Peabody.
A large part of the game was played in the middle of the field with neither team able to generate a lot of offense. The Tanners used senior keeper Dominic Cunha in the first half and senior Will Machado on the final 40 minutes. Cunha made a big save on Nico Nadeau’s free kick two minutes into the game. Just before halftime the Falcons had another strong bid on a corner, but couldn’t finish.
The Falcons’ best chance to get on the board came with six minutes remaining on a shot by captain Daniel Rossitto that just missed the far corner.
Peabody’s defense was outstanding led by Tyler Surman, Ben Kemp, Nick Sablone, and Kosta Prousalis.