October 30, 2021
Danvers 2 - Swampscott 0
The Danvers Varsity Girls Soccer Team hosted Swampscott Saturday evening in their final league and regular season match of the season. The weather report said to expect heavy rain and 10-20 mile per hour winds around game time. Danvers came into the match 1 point in the standings behind Masconomet. With a tie, the 2 teams would share the league title and with a win, it would belong to Danvers alone. The weathermen weren't far off as the weather at kick off was light rain and light wind, though increasing. A couple of Dads of the Danvers players set up canopy tents so the players and their belongings could stay relatively dry.
Danvers came out flying on the opening whistle. There was a lot at stake for the Falcons and they showed it in their dominating play. Senior Captains Arianna Bezanson, Emma Dunn, Gabby Chisholm and Reese Pszenny were clearly pumped up for this game and it showed. Pszenny who has been sidelined with an injury the past couple of weeks was terrific at psyching her team up from the sideline and yelling praise to her teammates after strong plays on the field.
"Reese plays club with several of the players on Swampscott and she new the challenge we were up against. It's been great seeing the leadership that she is showing. I know that it must be super hard for her not to be on the field, but she has still been an instrumental part of our success. Our other 3 captains came out flying. You could tell how much the league title means to them. Arianna dominated the entire game from her midfield spot. She was first to every ball and created a ton of offense for us and defended extremely well too. Gabby and Emma were lock down defensively. they weren't going to let anyone get near our net. Swampscott only had 6 shots the entire game and they were a huge part of that."
Danvers best chance came early on when a ball sprung loose behind the Swampscott goalie to a wide open, freshman, Brooke Wynott. Wynott's one time lefty shot missed just wide keeping the game scoreless. Danvers looked to stretch the Big Blue out by playing wide whenever possible. Junior backs, Mikayla Shaffaval and Ryley Crosby along with mids, Courtney Hinchion, Georgia Prouty and Molly Godfried all did their part at trying to keep the team's wide shape. Junior striker, Ellie Anderson was relentless in attack and created all kinds of trouble for the Swampscott defense. Still, with a lot of dominating play in the Swampscott end, Danvers had no goals to show for it.
With time winding down in the first half, Danvers was awarded a direct kick from about 35 yards out. Danvers immediately called a time out and set up a last second play, hoping to get a goal before halftime. Bezanson sent a long, line drive at the Swampscott net that the keeper got her hands on but couldn't catch. The ball came down in a crowd and junior defender Mikayla Shaffaval banged it home for what looked like an amazing goal before halftime. Seconds after the goal was scored the refs got together and decided the goal would not count because time had expired. The score would stay 0-0 at halftime.
"That was emotionally draining. That was an outstanding play by both Ari and Mikayla. To get such a thrilling, last second goal before half time and then have it taken away from us was hard. One of the refs had signaled it a goal so my team was celebrating. Then for them to take the goal back... that was a difficult moment for our entire team. It certainly fired us up though."
As the second half began, the rain began to come down faster and heavier. The wind continued and it was clear the second half's weather was not going to improve. Danvers continued to control play but it was clear that the weather conditions were having an impact on all the players on the field. Gabby Chisholm made a couple excellent tackles in the Danvers end of the field to keep the Big Blue at bay. Junior defensive mid Teagan Price was outstanding at slowing down Swampscott's talented midfielders. Junior goalkeeper Emily Goddard did well to handle 4 second half shots by the visitors in the nasty weather. With time ticking and the game remaining scoreless, you could feel the pressure mounting on the Falcons. With 19 minutes to play, Danvers got what they were looking for. Freshman Brooke Wynott passed to an open freshman, Georgia Prouty about 20 yards out from goal. Prouty took the left footed shot and uncorked a laser into the back of the Swampscott net giving her team the lead. The soaking wet bench of the Falcons went wild and the fans in the stands cheered loudly as the hosts finally had the lead they were looking for.
"Georgia hit a rocket. That may have been the goal of the season for us thus far. It was certainly the most important. She has so much talent and has really come up big for us in the biggest games. I love that it was a goal by a freshman off a pass from Brooke Wynott, another freshman. Brooke has really played well for us the past few games and that assist was huge."
Shortly after taking the lead, Danvers made a defensive move, removing a forward and adding sophomore Kacie McDonough, another defensive player to the field. Danvers continued to battle and survived a couple of late Swampscott corner kicks. The weather continued to get worse and with about 15 minutes remaining, it was a complete downpour on the field. Puddles were accumulating on the turf and the flow of the game was greatly changed. With 10 minutes to play, junior Cali Abbatessa entered the game and soon after, made a big difference. With 7 minutes to play, Bezanson beat her man along the end line of the field and played a ball back to Abbatessa who was waiting, alone at the 6 yard line. Abbatessa one touched the ball with her left foot, finding the back of the net for the goal. Once again the sideline and fans erupted in excitement.
"What a timely strike by Cali. It was an awesome individual effort by Arianna and then a great one time finish by Cali with her left foot. She's scored 2 goals in 2 games, both with her left foot. When she got that goal, you could start to feel the excitement that we were gonna win the game."
The last few minutes of play were close to blinding with the extremely hard rain coming down at a ferocious pace. When the final whistle blew, the entire bench of players, drenched completely, sprinted onto the field to celebrate with their teammates. Danvers had officially won their 5th straight North Eastern Conference Title. It was the 9th shutout of the season for the Falcons.
"I'm so happy for the Team. They've worked so hard these past couple of months. I shared a great Mia Hamm quote with them before the game that says "it's easier to get to the top then it is to stay on top." This is so true. With the great success of last year's team, we've had so much pressure on us this year and we always get every team's best game. Our schedule has been filled with tough opponents and it's really prepared us for games like these. With Masco winning both of their games this week, we had no room for error. The girls on the sideline were drenched and freezing yet they never stopped screaming for their teammates on the field. I'm proud of my Coaches for giving everything they had all season and preparing the girls for each game. The Girls really wanted this bad and I'm really proud of them. What an exciting game. Total team effort."
Danvers improves to 13-2-3 on the season and now will wait to find out where they are seeded in the Div. 2 State Tournament bracket which could be announced sometime Monday. Danvers will hope to get a high enough seed so that they can host their first round opponent.