DANVERS — In 18 games this season, and even in the three they didn’t win, the Danvers High girls soccer team had never failed to score a goal.
It took a Herculean defensive effort from Concord-Carlisle and less than ideal conditions Thursday night, but the end result was that at the worst possible time the Falcons finally put an egg on their side of the scoreboard.
Sarah Creamer scored the only goal of the game with 12 minutes to play and the Patriots shocked top-seed Danvers, 1-0, on a slick, chilly and rain-soaked Morse Field in the Division 2 North quarterfinals. The result ends a run of three straight North championship appearances for Danvers (15-2-2), halted a 15-game unbeaten streak and marked the first time the Falcons didn’t win a tournament game since 2014.
“Unfortunately that’s tournament soccer. It’s harsh when it ends,” said veteran Danvers head coach Jimmy Hinchion, who could only compliment the Patriots as one of the few teams his powerhouse Falcons have never beaten.
“They were faster than us and they were more disciplined than us. That was the most physical and disciplined team we’ve played all season.”
The Falcons were not without their scoring chances. Once in each half, the C-C keeper came off her line and dove to try to take control of the ball but slid on the wet turf. That left a Danvers player all alone with no one between her and the net, and on both occasions the shot was not on frame — in the first half a left-foot bid by Arianna Bezanson went wide and in the second half Abby Cash’s went over the cross bar.
“In this kind of game, you’re only going to get a couple of opportunities each way,” Hinchion said. “Concord made one of theirs count and we weren’t able to.”
C-C’s lone goal came on a rare defensive breakdown by Danvers which allowed two attackers into the box. Katie Butts sent the ball backwards diagonally out of the reach of Falcon keeper Kylie MacCormack and Creamer sped to the middle for a tap-in at the 68 minute mark.
MacCormack, a senior mainstay in net, had a fantastic final outing in the Blue-and-White with 11 saves. C-C’s other quality scoring chance came off a rebound in the opening half with senior Becca Rocker blocking it and kicking it away for a save. Along with junior defender Livvi Anderson, MacCormack and Rocker were Danvers’ most consistent performers in this one.
The Falcons also brought tremendous pressure in the final 10 minutes. In the 75th minute, they earned their fourth corner kick (all in the second half) but saw a C-C defender clear a juicy-looking rebound.
The in the 77th minute, after a yellow card on a Patriot defender, Danvers had an indirect kick from the 5-yard line. Senior Sam Pelletier’s shot was on frame but after a save was cleared away by the defense before a Falcon could pounce on the rebound. Overall, Danvers’ speedsters like Cash, Abbi Clickstein, Riley DiGilio and Bezanson weren’t able to roam free against C-C’s physically imposing midfielders.
“We’re a skilled team. We like to play it at our feet and they didn’t let us do that,” said Hinchion, who didn’t feel the slick footing due to the wet turf was much of a factor in the result. “It wasn’t ideal but it was much more Concord-Carlisle that stopped us than any of the rain.”
Losing seven seniors to graduation hurts, but the group — captains Cash, Clickstein and Rocker plus Pelletier, MacCormack, Julia Ryan and Colby Thomson — won three NEC titles, played in three North finals and had a hand in a state title in 2017. That’s a legacy that stacks up with anyone’s.
“We have seven seniors and I love them all. They’re fantastic kids,” Hinchion said. “They made the younger players better just as the younger players made them better. They left their mark on this program, without a doubt.”