Haley Bernhardt scored all three of Swampscott's goals as the Big Blue tied the Tanners, 3-3. (Item File Photo)

Tanners, Big Blue battle to tie in tournament atmosphere

PEABODY -- In what felt like a state tournament atmosphere, the Peabody and Swampscott girls soccer teams tied 3-3 in a makeup game at Coley Lee Field on Tuesday afternoon to close out their regular seasons. It was a back-and-forth battle for the entire game, with the two teams trading goals throughout.

"This game really did have a tournament feel," said Swampscott coach Alvi Ibanez. "It was a great way for both teams to get ready to play in their respective tournaments and really test ourselves one more time before we go into the tournament."

Haley Bernhardt, Swampscott's top scorer this season, scored all three goals for the Big Blue. All three of Peabody's goals were scored by Emily Nelson.

Peabody coach Dennis Desroches wasn't entirely pleased with his team's performance on Tuesday, especially with the fact that the Tanners gave up goals on one penalty kick and one free kick right outside the box.

"I've never seen us give up this many PKs in a season, I think we've given up six already and the most I can ever remember us giving up is two," Desroches said. "You can't give a quality team that many opportunities in the offensive zone and expect them not to score."

The Tanners were the first to net a goal in this game. Less than four minutes into the game, Peabody earned a corner kick. Bridget O'Connell sent a lofting pass from the corner into the box, where Nelson stepped up and knocked in a header to give Peabody a 1-0 lead.

Peabody continued to push the pace for the next several minutes, but Swampscott started making some runs of its own as well. Then, a Swampscott player was taken down in the box with about 16 minutes left in the first half to earn a penalty kick. Bernhardt took the ball and rocketed a shot into the net to tie the game.

The score remained there until almost halfway through the second half. It was then that Bernhardt scored her second goal, this one on a free kick from just outside the box, to give Swampscott the lead.

But Peabody picked up the pace from there. Ten minutes later, the same duo of O'Connell and Nelson paired up for pretty much the same exact play as the first goal, ending with another header goal by Nelson to tie up the score at 2-2.

The Tanners held onto that momentum for all of seven minutes, until Bernhardt once again scored to give the Big Blue the lead. She had to work a little harder for this one, taking the ball up the right side of the field and launching a shot inside the right post.

Then, with just over two minutes left in the game, Nelson once again was able to break free, this time scoring with her foot from about 15 yards out to help the Tanners escape with the tie.

"You saw how well we played in that last 26 minutes of the game, but we can't wait that long to turn it on," said Desroches. "Especially going into the tournament against more quality teams like this, we just need to bring it from the opening kick."

With the regular season now over for both teams, all that's left to do is wait to find out where they fall in the tournament pairings. Peabody (11-3-4) is looking at either a four or a five-seed in the Division 1 North tournament, while Swampscott (9-7-2) will likely be seeded closer to eight or nine in the Division 3 North tournament. The pairings will be announced this afternoon.

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