Danvers Falcons Girls Soccer '07

Danvers girls use depth and tradition to stay among the elite

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Wednesday, September, 05 By Bill Kipouras
Staff writer

What is it that keeps the Danvers High School girls soccer program atop the mountain?

After all, it's major news when the Falcons lose or even tie.

But there's no mystery as to why Danvers is always strong, said head coach Jim Hinchion. Maybe a degree of awe, but certainly no mystery as to why the Falcons are continually one of the top programs in Eastern Mass. girls soccer circles.

For starters, Danvers Youth Soccer is an elite development program, a great feeder system for the high school program. "We've been blessed with talent," the 35-year-old Hinchion said. "They all come through Danvers Youth Soccer. We owe them a lot of gratitude."

There is also all kinds of depth on the Falcons' roster | something that usually happens each fall. There are 14 seniors back for the Blue and White, all of whom have varsity experience.

On top of that, Danvers simply knows how to win. They've been the Northeastern Conference champions in each of the last four seasons and six of the last eight, having won two Division 2 North titles during Hinchion's nine seasons. They also appeared in one state final, losing in overtime to Belchertown.

Some of Hinchin's coaching colleagues, like Fred Day of Swampscott, are wondering when | if ever | Danvers is going to slip.

"They've been our nemesis. They're still the team to beat," Day said.

That's saying something, considering Day has extremely high hopes for his own team. Still, he realizes champinoships run through Danvers.

"We have 18 lettermen back and could win it all," Day figured. "But we keep running into Danvers when we're knocking at the door. It's been going on for four or five years."

Depth galore

It's well known among soccer followers that this year's Danvers club doesn't exactly have an army of returning starters back. Only Jackie Gauthier, Katelyn Hartnett, Keri Mroszczyk, Caraline Moholland and Kathleen Landers return. But as always, they do have that above-mentioned depth.

Hartnett, a center midfielder, scored 12 goals and dished out 11 assists a year ago, earning her NEC MVP, All-State, Eastern Mass. All-Star and All-New England recognition. She had a hallmark performance in her team's 3-0 win over Swampscott, finishing with a goal and two assists. A top student as well with a 4.0 grade point average, she'll be one the area's top recruits.

Moholland, the goalkeeper, is another tower of strength. She had a dozen straight shutouts last fall and 16 overall. She shared team MVP honors with Hartnett and was also an NEC and Eastern Mass. all-star.

Gauthier, a midfielder, has been a three-year NEC all-star, a two-time All-Stater and two-time EMass. choice. In addition, Ashley Sullivan and Casey King are available again for yeoman duty. They were 2005 NEC all-stars as sophomores but missed all of 2006 with leg injuries.

Expecting to win

Danvers went 12-0-2 in Northeastern Conference play last fall, 16-3-2 overall. Two of those losses came against the NEC's newest team, Peabody, both by 3-1 scores.

Peabody, which will be in the NEC Large division, will present problems for one and all this season, as head coach Lori Escolas feels she has one of her best Tanner teams in eight years led by highly skilled Alyssa Manoogian (18 goals, 15 assists last year) and Erika DiGiacomo (21-11-32).

But Danvers, playing out of the NEC South, won't concede anything to any opponent. You might almost say Danvers has a healthy attitude in that it always expects to win.

"Danvers is still Danvers," Beverly coach Kristin Macdonald asserted.

What about the targets this team wears on its backs? "The players are accustomed to it. I see it as a good thing," Hinchion said. "They know they're going to get the other team's best effort. When the other team is playing at their best, it's only going to raise their games. You want to play against the best competition. It's a good kind of pressure.

"They usually rise to the challenge," he went on. "I ask them to play hard and their best, and usually good things happen."

Something special

There is something special about wearing a Danvers soccer jersey, according to former Falcons' standout and current Endicott College freshman Kayla Corbett.

"Young girls in the youth program dream some day of playing at the high school," Corbett said. "I miss high school soccer already, because Jimmy (Hinchion) made it so much fun and everybody got along. And Danvers does have a great fundamental program."

Do the high expectations each year offer a lot of pressure? "Definitely, there's pressure," Corbett said. "They're ranked No. 1 in the NEC every year and seem obligated to win it. Lose a few games, and it's a huge disappointment.

"Jimmy knows his stuff. They lost 5-6 girls, but they'll do well again. They're solid."

Jerry Hills, who works as part of Hinchion's staff, won two state titles during his time as the Falcons' head coach. Kristin Okvist coached the other state champion.

Rival coaches claim Danvers does not rebuild; it just reloads.

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