By Conor Walsh
---- — MANCHESTER — Simply put, the Manchester Essex girls lacrosse team is rolling right now.
Just ask Danvers.
The Falcons visited Hyland Field at Manchester Essex Regional High School last night to try to get in the way of the Hornets’ hot start. Like most others, they were unsuccessful.
The Hornets dominated from the start last night, cruising to an 11-4 win over Danvers on the back of strong defensive play and steady offensive work.
“All year they’ve been playing this way,” Hornets’ coach Sarah Holch said. “They’re just playing hard the whole game and their focus is much more intense with every single player. We have confidence in everyone.”
It didn’t take long for the Hornets to pull away from the Falcons, as goals from Maya Heath, Olivia Mastondino, Megan Jones, Jenny Cochand and Brittany Smith spotted Manchester Essex with a 5-0 lead in the game’s first 20 minutes.
That was more than enough of a pad for the Hornets’ defensive corps and goaltender Katie Furber, who stood tall against Danvers’ scarce chances.
Danvers did, however, find a way to climb its way back into the game. While the Falcons ultimately fell to 1-5 on the year with the loss, they went on a 4-2 run that spanned from the end of the first half to early in the second half.
With two tallies from Katie Szela and a goal apiece from Katherine Leonard and Rachel Trocchi, the Falcons put the Hornets (6-1) on notice in cutting the lead to 7-4.
From there, though, Manchester Essex slammed the door. Heath completed her hat trick, Carolyn Heslop notched two second-half goals and Smith and Olivia Lantz added one goal each in the second half to completely dismiss any comeback thoughts the Falcons may have harbored.
The Hornets finished the game on a 4-0 run.
“I thought it was a great game,” Holch said. “We’ve had a lot of good performances, but this was an excellent game. I’m really pleased with the whole game.”
While it was certainly an impressive performance by the Hornets’ offense, it was the team’s defense that stole the show.
Starting with Furber, the Hornets never allowed the Falcons to get comfortable with offensive possession, and when they forced stalled possession they were quickly able to transition to possession of their own.
As the Hornets showed last night, that’s an easy recipe for success.
“The defense, especially in the first half, was incredible,” Holch said. “It took them 13 minutes to even get a shot off. I attribute that to a defense that’s just not letting them through to the goal, and that’s the best they’ve done all season. It’s just pure teamwork. We’ve been working on it a lot and the defense is just so improved and more focused.”