SWAMPSCOTT — The Danvers girls soccer team took advantage of early scoring opportunities and survived a late Swampscott push to hold on for a 2-1 Northeastern Conference win at Blocksidge Field Monday afternoon.
“We are happy with it,” Danvers head coach Jim Hinchion said of the win. “This game had a tournament feel and it was just good soccer. Swampscott’s playing really well now and I like the way my team is playing as well. At this point you take anything you can get. If it’s a one-goal win you take it and you run with it because goals are hard to come by this time of the season.”
Despite the loss, Big Blue coach Norman James was happy to see how his team improved after a 6-1 loss at Danvers earlier this season.
“It’s a much better result than the first time we played them,” James said. “We talked about taking care of the ball, defending better and just basically playing a team with so much speed and athletic ability.
“We played much better but we still had a slow start to this game,” James added. “We have to get out of those slow starts. This was like a postseason game with the atmosphere, pace and the physicality of the game. This is preparing us well. I like what we did in the second half it was much better.”
Haley Bernhardt scored the lone goal for Swampscott while goaltender Nikki Rosa made several clutch saves throughout the game.
Riley Baker and Arianna Bezanson each scored one goal for the Falcons.
“This is exactly what we expected coming here,” Hinchion said. “We told the girls ‘forget about what happened in the first game’ because Swampscott has grown as a team and has been playing excellent soccer. We knew it would be a battle and it almost mirrored the first game in that we scored the two early goals but couldn’t get a third before they made it a close game.”
Less than four minutes into the game, Baker drew a call in the box that granted her a penalty kick opportunity. Baker ripped a hard shot past Rosa on the kick to put Danvers ahead 1-0.
Just under 10 minutes later, Bezanson made an aggressive defensive play to steal the ball from a Swampscott defender in front of the net and fired a shot to extend the Danvers lead to 2-0.
With just over eight minutes left in the first half Bernhardt got the Big Blue on the board. After winning a race to a loose ball at the Falcons end of field, Bernhardt ripped a shot with her right foot to cut the Danvers lead to 2-1.
In the second half, Swampscott was able to step up its defensive play but couldn’t capitalize on late chances to tie the game.
“They played a little bit tighter in the back in the second half and we definitely had less chances,” Hinchion said. “But I liked the way we defended and our keeper made a huge save, which she’s certainly capable of.”
Bernhardt had a chance to notch the equalizer with 10 minutes left to play but her shot was blocked by a defender as Danvers held on for the 2-1 win.
Danvers (11-1-1) will play Marblehead Thursday (3:30) while Swampscott (6-4) travels to Peabody Friday (4).
“Overall I’m kind of happy but yet we have some work to do,” James said. “I’m glad we get these days off to train. We had three games last week so the girls’ legs are probably getting a little jello, so we will be doing some stretching but we are excited for our next game.”