November 13, 2021
Division 2 State Tournament, Round 3
Danvers 1 - Silver Lake 2
The Danvers Varsity Girls Soccer Team advanced to the final 8 in the Division 2 State Tournament Saturday afternoon. With the #5 seed in the Power Rankings, they traveled to #4 seed Silver Lake of the very strong Patriot League. The Lady Falcons boarded the bus at 1:30 and arrived in Kingston at 3:20. The Falcon's coaching staff scouted Silver Lake the days leading up to the match and they knew that they would be an extremely tough opponent.
"The new power ranking system along with the State wide tournament as opposed to keeping the sectionals has had good and bad repercussions throughout. We were fortunate to be able to host in the first 2 rounds and had teams traveling quite a distance to play us. That was certainly to our advantage. Having to travel almost 2 hours to Kingston and play on grass was definitely a disadvantage but you have to live with that in this new system. Silver Lake had a tremendous regular season playing in the loaded Patriot League. They lost to #4 Nationally ranked Hingham twice but had beaten a fantastic Whitman Hanson team twice. After watching them play several times, we new #11, #20 and #15 were going to be handfuls, all EA MA All Stars."
After a slightly abbreviated warm up and some sprinkling of the Danvers Home turf on the Silver Lake field by senior captain, Reese Pszenny, the Falcons were ready. Danvers took charge from the opening whistle and dominated play early. The Falcons imposed an attacking style, not letting the Lakers out of their own end of the field for the first 10 minutes.
"We looked great for that first 10 minutes. We seemed to adjust to the surface quickly and had some early chances. However, when the 11th minute hit, I think Silver Lake woke up."
In the 11th minute a ball was played to the Home Team's talented #11 midfielder who one timed a pass to their streaking right wing, #15. At full speed she hit a shot from 25 yards out, at a terrible angle that rocketed into the far post upper 90 of the Danvers net for the 1 goal lead.
"That was an incredible play. I don't think she could hit that shot again like that if you gave her 50 tries. The speed she was moving, the distance and the angle... on top of all that she hit a laser. There was no chance for Emily to make that play."
Danvers responded quickly though. Off the ensuing kickoff, senior captain Arianna Bezanson played a quick give and go with freshman Brooke Wynott. Bezanson then proceeded to dribble through and around 5 defenders before crossing the ball across the goal mouth. Junior winger Ellie Anderson made a sprinting run to that back post and hammered the ball into the back of the net to tie the game."
"That was an awesome response by the girls. Ari's dribbling through their defense was amazing and it was so great to see Ellie making that back post run for the goal. Great play all around."
With the game tied and still a long way to go in the half, Silver Lake picked up their game. They started to use their significant size and strength advantage on the Falcons. The Laker's #11 in the middle won almost every ball in the air with her significant height advantage and they attacked often up their right side of the field with #15 who was extremely fast. The Danvers defense did all they could do to keep the game even at 1. Falcon junior goalie Emily Goddard was absolutely terrific handling the pressure and made 4 first half saves. With 13 minutes to play in the half, Silver Lake pounced on a short goal kick by Danvers and put a perfectly placed shot to the lower corner of the Danvers net, that Goddard couldn't reach. The score would stay 2-1 through halftime.
"We were fighting but they were just quicker to the ball all over the field. They were outworking us and using their strength well. I thought Tegan Price was doing a great job against #11. She's a development academy player who decided to come back to playing high school ball and she clearly was a gifted player. Teagan stayed with her most of the game but we also played Ryley Crosby on her for a bit. Silver Lake's #15 was just as tough to stop on the outside and we tried Crosby, Mikayla Shaffaval and Gabby Chisholm all on her side of the field. I always come into the game with the mind set that let's let the other Team have to adjust to us and what we do well. But we clearly had to adjust to them today."
Danvers fought hard throughout the second half. The Falcons tried to get more offensive but were only able to get 3 shots on the Silver Lake net. The hosts dropped their top player back with the lead to watch Bezanson everywhere she went on the field. It was clear Silver Lake was going to defend all out to hold on to the 1 goal lead. The Falcons got good effort from freshman Georgia Prouty on the wing, junior Cali Abbatessa at striker, junior Courtney Hinchion at midfield and senior captain Emma Dunn on defense, but Silver Lake was making it difficult at every spot on the field.
"There were times where we would find Georgia or Ellie with space, but we never really were able to get numbers involved in an attack. We moved Gabby to outside back, hoping to get some attacking options wide but we just struggled to find those passing lanes."
About midway through the half, Silver Lake served a corner kick into a crowd of players. A Silver Lake player rose above everyone and headed a blast at the Falcon net that amazingly, Goddard was able to get a save on. With 17 minutes remaining, Danvers called a time out. Afterwards the Falcons seemed to get a boost of energy and started to play much better. The Falcons most dangerous opportunity came when Arianna Bezanson was taken down by a defender, inches outside of the goalie box. The visitors couldn't capitalize on the free kick and missed another attacking opportunity on a questionable offsides call. With 6 minutes remaining the skies opened up and several bolts of lightning were seen not too far in the distance. The Silver Lake announcer asked everyone to find shelter quickly inside the school or in their vehicles. Per MIAA rule, the game would have to wait at least 45 minutes before it could resume depending on the clearing of the storm.
"The girls were a little down inside the cafeteria. We had the momentum the past 10 minutes and that was taken away with the weather. But we had time to talk on how we would approach the final 6 minutes. Most importantly, we emphasized not wasting the 6 minutes left that we had."
After the storm passed and both teams were given a brief warm up period, the game got back under way. Silver Lake smartly was delaying things as much as they could to have time tick away. Danvers fought to the very end and had 1 last opportunity in the run of play. Ari Bezanson took a bending shot from about 20 yards out that just missed the far post and went inches over the crossbar. It would not be the Falcon's day and Silver Lake would advance to the final 4 in Divsion 2 with a hard fought 2-1 win.
"Ari's shot was so close. I couldn't have asked more from my team. They took that very strange turn of events and came out and played all out for that last 6 minutes. Silver Lake was just a little stronger than us today. We had very good moments in the
beginning and end of the game, but they controlled most of the time in between. Three of the final 4 teams, Silver Lake, Plymouth North and Whitman Hanson are all from the Patriot League. That tells you a little about how good of a team we were up against."
Keeper Emily Goddard made 9 saves in all and Coach Hinchion said she was fantastic in keeping the lead to 1. The Coach also mentioned the tough play of Bezanson in the midfield and Mikayla Shaffaval on defense.
"The last game is always difficult. Only 1 team wins their last game and that's the State Champion. It's difficult because you spend all this time, every day, 6 days a week with these players. We've been together since August 23rd and we've become a Soccer Family. It's hard when it ends so suddenly and all of the sudden there's no practice the next day. I'm so proud of the team and coaches and the culture that was created this season. Every day was a pleasure to be at practice. The most difficult part though is saying goodbye to your seniors. We had 8 tremendous seniors this year: Captains, Reese Pszenny, Gabby Chisholm, Emma Dunn and Arianna Bezanson along with Sabrina Ramsay, Hannah Barclay, Emma Hatch and Carina Boles. All 8 of them were outstanding both on the field and off. They were leaders who came to set a great example every day and I couldn't have asked more from them. They will all be truly missed and I wish them all the very best for the rest of their senior year in school and beyond."
Danvers finishes the season with a record of 15-3-3 and won their 5th consecutive N.E.C. Title.