LYNN — A tough start came back to bite the Danvers girls soccer team Monday afternoon in the Division 2 North finals at Manning Field. The No. 2 Falcons fell behind quickly and couldn’t dig themselves out, falling to No. 4 Winchester 3-1.
Winchester found the back of the net two times in the first three minutes to take an early 2-0 lead.
“We talked in length at practice that this is a very important team that you can’t give up the first goal, let alone two in the first couple minutes,” Danvers coach Jim Hinchion said. “As soon as they score they have a very strong defense. They start the game with only three backs and that’s when you want to take advantage of them because as soon as they do get that lead they start adding more and more defensively.”
The first goal came just 36 seconds into play when Ally Murphy won a battle for possession in front of the Danvers goal and ripped a shot for an easy goal. A few minutes later Hannah Curtin added the second goal when she beat two Danvers defenders and extended the Winchester lead to 2-0.
It didn’t take Danvers much time to realize Winchester’s speed was tough to keep up with.
“That was definitely the fastest team we have played,” Hinchion said. “Speed is tough. We are fast too, they were probably as fast as us. They have good team speed all over at every position on the field and the two goals early is a tough hole to dig out of.”
After a timeout Danvers was able to hold off Winchester for much of the remaining half before Jordan Weinberg finished another Winchester offensive chance with a goal to extend the lead to 3-0 before halftime.
“That third one was a backbreaker certainly,” Hinchion said. “At that point we were playing much better and defending better. That was a tough one because I figured if we could go in at 2-0 at half time or even get one I thought we would be back in this game.”
The Falcons played much better defensively in the second half but were unable to capitalize on most of the few scoring chances they created.
With 22:18 remaining in the game senior captain Riley Baker was awarded a penalty kick after a foul in the Winchester box. Baker beat the goalkeeper with a shot to the left side of the net to get Danvers on the board and cut the Winchester lead to 3-1. However, that was all the offense Danvers had in store and the Falcons watched their season end.
“We weren’t sharp today,” Hinchion said. “Of course that has a lot to do with Winchester. They’re a very good team but I told the girls at halftime, ‘We picked a bad time maybe to play our worst half.’ I thought we played our worst half of soccer in the first. We didn’t have that energy and we weren’t going hard for any 50/50 balls. I thought we were capable of a lot more.”
Despite the loss Hinchion is proud of what his team was able to accomplish this year and what his senior class has accomplished in the past few seasons.
“The seniors are great,” Hinchion said. “They are going to look back on this a couple days from now maybe a couple weeks from now and realize they played in three North finals, back-to-back-to-back, they won the programs only state title which is incredible. It just says a lot about the seniors. They’re fantastic players but they’re also leaders and are unselfish.”