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Girls' soccer survives Beverly to advance in tournament

photo credit: Kristian Lundberg and Jacob Schwartz

by Kristian Lundberg
At Monday’s first round tournament match, the overwhelming irony was that the Tigers, preachers of the maxim “No Second Chances,” survived a scare from 10th-seeded Beverly precisely because of a second chance.
Senior Holly Szafran, by far and away the team’s top goal scorer this year, had an easy opportunity to score the game-winner for the Tigers deep into the second half–and missed it.
But, given a much more difficult opportunity six minutes later, Szafran drilled a pristine left-footed strike to carry her squad to the second round.
“After they called a timeout, I told Holly that she would get another chance,” coach James Hamblin said. “It was pretty much a mental issue for Holly, but she gave herself another opportunity.”
Szafran’s game-winner came off a left-footed delivery from sophomore Amelia Williams, who played a strong all-around game in the midfield. Her cross bounced around in the box before finally falling to Szafran, who finished with a semi-volley that skipped into the lower left corner, past the motionless Beverly goalkeeper. With 6:30 left, the Tigers took the lead for good, as Beverly failed to sustain enough offensive pressure to threaten seriously in the dying moments of the match.

Her goal came as a huge relief for both the Tigers and their fans at Dickinson Stadium, considering that the squad had wasted a glorious opportunity mere minutes before. With 12:15 left, junior Jordyn Matthews floated a brilliant ball over the top to Szafran, who was making a run down the right wing. Behind all of the Beverly defenders, Szafran controlled and beat the onrushing goalkeeper with a cutback move to her left foot. However, facing a wide open net, she panicked and pushed her shot wide left.

Still, Szfran more than made up for it a few minutes later.

“Things didn’t click for us in the first half, but we were excellent in possession in the second half,” Hamblin said. “Especially when we used our left and right backs on offense, we controlled the game.”

After Beverly scored an early goal eight minutes in off a redirected free kick, the Tigers responded with 16 minutes left in the half. Sophomore Shannon Fitzgerald snuck around her defender on the left wing and sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to equalize, drawing cheers from the packed crowd.

With the win, the 7th-seeded Tigers advanced to face 15th-seeded Chelmsford Wednesday.

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