Danvers Falcons Girls Soccer '07

Wed, Nov 07, 2007 06:30 PM @ Danvers
Team 1st 2nd Final
Playoff Game
Saugus 1 0 1
Danvers 2 2 4
Danvers 4, Saugus 1. » Linsey Tait, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Danvers stays focused, stops Saugus

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Thursday, November, 08 By Matt Jenkins
Staff writer

You would think two lopsided victories in the regular season would have given Danvers High girls soccer coach Jimmy Hinchion a comfortable feeling about last night's Division 2 North quarterfinal matchup with Saugus.

Comfort has no place in the state tournament, however.

Hinchion cast aside the seven-goal difference the Falcons held over Saugus in two previous meetings this fall in an attempt to keep his team focused on advancing. The ploy worked as Danvers avoided looking ahead to the semifinals, and handled Saugus, 4-1, to increase its postseason home winning streak to 16 games.

The Falcons will now meet Belmont (time and place TBA) in the Division 2 North semifinals.

"I said to the girls, 'We had a couple nice wins over them. Throw them out the window,'" Hinchion said. "In tournament time, everybody is equal. Teams can play defensive or play for a tie; you never know what's going to happen. We just focused on today being a new day."

When put on the spot, Hinchion couldn't pinpoint any specific opponents from the past who had given Danvers trouble in the tournament after two regular season wins. But you can't blame the veteran coach for his thinking.

It would be easy for a high school athlete to overlook a soccer team that it had already beaten by scores of 4-0 and 4-1. The semifinals, which officially kicks off the neutral site portion of the tournament, could practically be tasted by a Danvers team staring down a quarterfinal matchup with the Sachems.

But an upset loss in the tournament would leave a terrible aftertaste, so Hinchion prepared accordingly.

"We just wanted to play possession as much as we could, and keep the ball on the ground as much as possible," Hinchion said. "The good thing was that we got that real early goal. That kind of set the tone. The last thing we wanted to do was go long without getting one in their net."

Ashley Sullivan scored in the first five minutes, and even though Saugus' Jillian Herr tied the score with a penalty kick, Danvers took a 2-1 lead into intermission when Alicia Franklin converted a pretty goal that proved to be the game-winner.

Saugus coach Ted Moriello hoped to stay even with the Falcons for as long as possible, and he knew trailing at halftime was not the ideal position to be in.

"They're strong all the way across the board," Moriello said. "They move to the ball really quick, they change fields quick, and they run forward on the balls really, really well."

Saugus put up a good fight early in the second half. The Sachems barely missed converting on two scoring chances in the first three minutes of the second half, and Danvers made them pay when Sullivan netted her second goal of the game on a feed from Chrissy Barrows just 4:28 in to give the Falcons a 3-1 lead.

"They came out flying," Hinchion said. "We just held on defensively. We have a pretty strong defensive team, but they did put some pressure on early in the second half. Who knows, if we didn't come up big, that could have changed the momentum of the game."

Katelyn Hartnett added the fourth goal when Saugus had pushed everyone up in an attempt to trim the margin. "We tried to get to balls quicker and tried to slow down their counter-attacks. That's very difficult to do with their team speed," Moriello said. "We had to stay with it, make sure we played good defense, and take our chances when it came to getting the ball up in their end. We did that at times, just not enough."

Sullivan, who finished with two goals and one assist, is developing into a pretty effective weapon at just the right time. Sullivan tore her ACL early last year in the second game of the season. She missed the rest of the year, but seems to be getting stronger with each game she plays this fall.

Known for her speed before the injury, Sullivan has slowly started to show signs of full recovery.

"She's almost back to full speed," Hinchion said. "She's had to adjust her game. Speed is the last thing to come back when you hurt your ACL, and now you can see her speed is really coming back. She's getting dangerous."

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