When the Danvers High girls soccer team registered two key road wins last week – turning back Beverly, 3-1, on Oct. 5 then steamrolling Saugus, 5-1, the following day – junior defender Jackie Morse’s signature was all over both victories.
“Jackie dominated a very offensively talented Beverly team. [She] beat her player to the ball constantly and gave us a physical presence that set the tone for the entire game,” said Falcons’ coach Jimmy Hinchion. “Jackie has played super aggressive and smart in the back all season long. Those were two huge wins.”
The Falcons (8-2-1; 6-1-0 NEC North) were riding a four-game winning streak heading into Thursday’s game against Marblehead (weather permitting) and closing in on another State Tournament berth. Danvers advanced to the North Sectional title game last season.
“The key to getting off to an 8-2-1 start would have to be our teamwork. We graduated many starters last year but the team has really come together well lately,” said Morse, eager for another trip to the tournament. “Once you’re in the tournament anything can happen; the key is to take it one game at a time.”
Morse said the Beverly win is the Falcons’ top accomplishment thus far this fall. “Beverly is a strong opponent but the team came together and came out with the win, putting us in second place in our conference,” she said.
Morse has always patrolled the back third, gravitating to defense from the time she took up the sport.
“At first I played it because I liked it; now I am comfortable with all aspects of the position. One of the most important keys to being a successful defensive player is to not panic. – you have to stay calm and focused on what’s going on around you,” she said.
Morse cites the ability to channel attackers to the outside and shielding the ball as her top skills. She said she “could improve on playing the ball out of the air,” which she finds challenging at times.
Morse began playing club soccer in the third grade and currently suits up for the North Shore United U17 side, the defending Maple Division One champions.
Morse is an honor student enrolled in AP Statistics and several honors level classes this semester, has a part-time job at Market Basket, and volunteers each Saturday at the Danvers Youth Football snack bar.
Morse hopes to continue playing in college and, at this point, has an interest in Merrimack College due to its academics and soccer program. Merrimack is ranked 17th nationally in Division Two this fall and is coached by Gabe Mejail, the winningest coach in Division Two history with 411 wins. Morse is also looking at Northeasten, UNH and UMass.
Girls Soccer – Kylie Plaza, sophomore Center Midfielder, one goal and two assists.
Girls Soccer – Alex Strangie, senior captain and Center Midfielder, two goals and one assist.
Girls Soccer – Mia Koutoulas, senior keeper, 26 saves vs. Beverly and 15 saves vs. Saugus.
Football – Nick Valles, senior captain and running back, 18 carries, 159 yards, two TDs vs. Lynnfield.
Football – Jake Palazola, senior running back, 14 carries, 149 yards, two TDs vs. Lynnfield.