October 24, 2021
Danvers 0 - Brookline 0
The Danvers Varsity Girls Soccer Team traveled to Brookline Sunday afternoon for their final non-league match of the regular season. Brookline is traditionally a powerhouse program from the very deep, Div. 1 Bay State League. The Falcons have enjoyed playing Brookline over the years as a great tune up for the State Tournament. This year's Brookline team came into the match with a 10-2-2 record and boasting the state's stingiest defense, having only given up 4 goals all season.
"We talked quite a bit at practice about how it would be challenging to get opportunities to score against them. At the same time, we knew they weren't a high scoring offense and we figured it would be a very tight game."
Danvers and Brookline started off the game with each trying to possess the ball and looking for attacking time in the opponents defensive third. Senior Captain Arianna Bezanson controlled play in the midfield well as she looked to initiate the offense. The back line of Mikayla Shaffaval, Emma Dunn, Ryley Crosby and Gabby Chisholm did well to limit Brookline's time near their goal. The Falcons had some great shots early by Ellie Anderson and Ari Bezanson but both sailed just over the goal. In the later minutes of the first half, a Brookline attacker got behind the Falcon defense on what looked offside. They then got by goaltender Emily Goddard and looked to be in for a clear goal. However, senior captain Gabby Chisholm made a sprinting run to clear the ball off of the goal line at the very last second to keep the game even at 0-0. Goddard made 7 saves in all in the first half and Danvers had 6 shots at the Brookline net.
"We were playing well looking into the sun that entire half. They had some chances but they were limited. I felt we needed to do a better job on the flanks, both offensively and defensively. They were getting behind our defense a few times because we were either pulling up too late, or not staying far enough back. We needed to make better decisions about doing one or the other 100% to avoid any near breakaways. Offensively, we needed to use the width of the field much better to stretch out their compact defense."
Danvers didn't give up a near breakaway the rest of the game. The defense played extremely well the second half. Ryley Crosby and Mikayla Shaffaval were immense at winning 50/50 balls and denying space for their attackers to operate. Emma Dunn did well to clog the middle and slow down anything in that area of the field. Gabby Chisholm broke up several dangerous plays using her speed and aggressive play in the back end.
The Falcons also did much better using the width of the field offensively. Freshman middie Georgia Prouty was awesome the second half staying wide and making darting runs to create space. She also did well to help out defensively in the middle with Bezanson. Brookline enjoyed having 7 corner kicks in the final 40 minutes, but the Falcons cleared everyone of them out of danger. The most dangerous one was late in the half when the visitors struggled to clear. However, a Danvers player on the post made a great block and keeper Emily Goddard was able to smother it. Goddard made 7 more saves in the second half, and some were spectacular.
"Emily was really on today. She got tested a bit more than we'd like, but she was sharp and made every play she needed to. I'd say she was our player of the game today for sure."
Danvers had some great opportunities of their own throughout the half. Several times the Falcons got inside the Brookline penalty area, but either the defense was able to make the tackle or the keeper came up with a big save. Danvers had their best opportunity about midway through the half. Ari Bezanson beat a defender on the right side and slid a perfect ball across the middle on the ground. Falcon striker Ellie Anderson was there to 1 time it home, but unfortunately the play was called offside. When the 80 minutes was finally up the game was ended in a 0-0 stalemate. Both teams fought hard and it was clear that both have the ability to make some noise in the upcoming state tournament.
"That's a tough defense and a solid goalie. They were very good at defending 1 v 1. Still, we got some very good opportunities. I like how we defended all those corner kicks and how we stayed composed when it was getting late in the game. If we can stay stride for stride with a team like this, I feel very good about it."
With the tie, Danvers record stands at 11-2-3 with 2 league games remaining on the schedule for next week.