PEABODY — In one of the most evenly matched games of the season, it all came down to a penalty kick as the Danvers girls soccer team edged out Peabody, 2-1, in a Northeastern Conference battle at Coley Lee Field on Wednesday night. The game was a battle for supremacy in the NEC, and with the win the Falcons (13-2-1) are just one point away from winning the conference outright.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever beaten Peabody twice in one season, so that’s great,” said Danvers coach Jimmy Hinchion. “But the girls knew what was at stake in this one, and it’s a great win. We came out slow at the start, but the girls worked hard and pulled it out.”
For Peabody (9-3-3), it was a tough way to lose but a great game to test out a young roster that’s still growing together.
“It’s a much better outcome than the first game around when we lost 3-1,” said Peabody coach Dennis Desroches. “What more can I ask for? We started six freshmen and two sophomores and battled to the end.”
The Tanners came out hot to to open the game. Peabody was winning all of the 50-50 balls and getting plenty of good scoring chances. Over the first 25 minutes of the game, the Tanners earned four corners, but couldn’t capitalize on their chances.
“We left some balls out in front of their goalie that we need to finish off, but again, that’s a great team we went up against,” Desroches said. “They’re very balanced and they play great defense, so it’s tough to get a lot of opportunities.”
Danvers then turned it on for the final 15 minutes. The Falcons started pushing the ball into the offensive zone and earned two corners of their own. But the big breakout play came with just under nine minutes to go. After taking control of the ball around midfield, the ball found the foot of senior captain Lydia Runnals. From 40 yards out, Runnals boomed a high lofting kick that flew over the outstretched arms of Peabody goalkeeper Jordan Muse to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.
The score remained there into the second half, but Peabody kept pushing. With about 25 minutes remaining, Peabody had a throw-in deep in the offensive zone. Catherine Manning threw it into Kolby Alves, who redirected the ball onto the foot of Amber Kiricoples, who then knocked home the tying goal.
The game continued in a back-and-forth manner for the next 20 minutes or so, until a hand-ball was called in the box against Peabody. Luckily for the Falcons, they had a senior captain to take the penalty kick shot in Hannah Lejeune.
“We work on those PKs every day, so every girl on this roster is capable of doing it,” said Hinchion. “But it was great to see Hannah step up and take the shot as a senior captain.” Lejeune stepped up and kicked a low, hard shot into the bottom-left corner of the net to give Danvers the eventual game-winning goal.
Peabody had several chances down the stretch, including two chances that were near goals. But each time the Falcons were able to hold strong, and they were able to walk away with the win.
Up next, Danvers will host Somerville on Friday, while Peabody takes on North Andover on Saturday.