Danvers holds off Gloucester, 1-0, in fierce field hockey battle

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DANVERS – The hard-earned Northeastern Conference title already belonged to the Danvers field hockey team, but a 1-0 win over next-best Gloucester on Tuesday completed some much-desired, unfinished business.

Maddie Chase’s goal on a corner with 13:47 to play marked the only offense, putting the Falcons (13-2-2) ahead despite getting their first shot-on-goal of the game about 30 seconds before.

It was a pleasant reward for a tenacious defensive effort, which staved off a loaded Fishermen (12-3-2) attack that controlled play for most of the first three quarters. Gloucester didn’t let up, but goalie Megan McGinnity (six saves) and the Danvers defense in front of her were equally resilient.

Considering the tie in the first matchup, and that the Fishermen rank higher in the Div. 3 power rankings, it was a meaningful win.

“Gloucester is such a huge competitor in the NEC, and it just is always great to have a win against them,” Chase said. “It feels a little different to go undefeated in the NEC, it really kind of put the stamp on it for us. … I think it brings really great momentum for us.”

“To get that win feels good,” added head coach Kristen McCarthy. “Knowing where they stand (in the rankings) and knowing the other teams right around them aren’t that much different.”

Lily Pregent, Abby Lowthers and Anna Cinelli proved how dangerous of a front line they are for Gloucester throughout, consistently putting the pressure on Danvers. Neither group could get a shot-on-goal in the first quarter despite each drawing a corner, though, and only combined for nine overall in a smothering performance from both defenses.

Gloucester found a way to get a little more through, but McGinnity was stellar. Pregent had a tremendous reverse-chip McGinnity had to slide on to keep out in the second quarter. Saves on a two-shot flurry with under three minutes left to preserve the lead was even more impressive.

All six saves were on grade-A chances from Gloucester, but Danvers prevented a lot more from getting on McGinnity in an effort the whole team seemed to play with more urgency in through the fourth quarter.

“(Molly Emery) shut everyone down back there,” McCarthy said. “We moved (Mia Lewis) to right and (Caroline Horn) to left, which was our first game (with it) tonight. Mia played really well on the right, and Caroline stepped up big on the left. And (Malana Moy) and Molly were both kind of both playing like sweeps. … I think that was huge to kind of stay even-keeled and just stay with it, and to know the time will come.”

That time came in the fourth.

Its first shot of the game drew a corner on the save with 14:13 left in the game, which turned into the only goal. Chase received the insert at the top of the circle, brought it inside, then shot a dribbler through traffic to squeeze it inside the right post.

“That (corner) wasn’t even supposed to go to me … but usually our corners that go wrong end working out the best, sometimes,” Chase said. “I left the ball behind me and dragged it. … I knew I couldn’t go left, so I went right.”

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