Asked to pinpoint a game that epitomizes the goal-scoring prowess of Arianna Bezanson, both teammate Livvi Anderson and Danvers girls’ soccer coach Jimmy Hinchion paused a moment to address the question — as if combing through a Cheesecake Factory menu, enticed by every option but having trouble picking just one.
The game Anderson ultimately chose to highlight wasn’t necessarily Bezanson’s most electrifying performance, but it was one that epitomized who she is as a player and how much she separates herself in clutch situations.
Anderson recalled how, against top-seeded Masconomet in the 2018 Division 2 North semifinals, Bezanson provided a pivotal strike to even the score after the Falcons fell behind in the first minute. Danvers went on to upset the undefeated Chieftains, 3-1, behind the brilliance of the then-freshman.
Those who know Bezanson well have consistently seen her rise to the challenge of delivering whenever her team needs her most. She finished with 22 goals and seven assists as a freshman, and 20 goals and 11 assists as a sophomore, and she already has 15 goals and three assists through just six games this fall.
Bezanson, who has verbally committed to Colgate, was a Northeastern Conference All-Star as a freshman, league Most Valuable Player, All-State, and All-New England selection as a sophomore, and has powered the Falcons (6-0) to an undefeated start as a junior.
“Ari is definitely one of a kind,” said Anderson, a senior captain who’s also committed to Colgate. “She’s so confident on the ball, and she has such great skill. She’s one of the most selfless players I’ve ever played with.”
Hinchion first met Bezanson and Anderson as their gym teacher at Highlands Elementary. He said he could tell right away that they loved to compete and wanted to be pushed. To this day, the two still hold the record for the pacer test and pushups at the school.
Bezanson’s and Anderson’s bond grew stronger when they joined the same club team, FC Stars, and they have continued to motivate each other over the years.
“She’s pushed me, and I’ve tried to push her, too,” Bezanson said of Anderson, an All-State defender. “She’s helped me grow into the person and player I am today.”
When they both committed to Colgate, people assumed it was a joint decision, but in reality it was a complete coincidence.
“One day I think I was like, ‘Colgate might be the one,’ and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh, me too,’” Anderson said.
Hinchion said any coach would be fortunate to have one player like Bezanson or Anderson, and he considers himself incredibly lucky to have two. He credited both for their unselfishness, noting how Bezanson was more than happy to play defense in a lopsided win against Salem to give other players a chance to score.
When Bezanson is attacking as a midfielder or striker, though, watch out. She scores in bunches — essentially “whenever she wants,” as Hinchion put it.
Hinchion said Bezanson is the first player in his 22 years at Danvers to post a hat trick in three straight games. Against Peabody, he said, she had five or six players draped on her every time she touched the ball and still coolly put away four goals.
Hinchion made it clear there’s a lot more to her than just her ability to finish. The attack builds through her, and she’s also the first line of defense. He called her a complete player, and someone who brings out the best in those around her.
“It’s just the way she has control over the whole game out there,” Hinchion said. “It’s impressive.”
▪ David Floeck has been the head coach at Whitman-Hanson for two-plus decades; in his time, he has seen phenomenal players come through the program. But none, he said, have been more influential than Sam Mewis, now a midfielder for Manchester City.
On Sunday, Mewis hoisted the FA Cup over her head after scoring City’s opening tally in the championship match. Her header, perfectly placed on Alex Greenwood’s cross, came at just the right time for City, which went on to win 3-1 over Everton. She has also notched 18 goals and six assists — plus a World Cup win — in international competition for the US women’s national team..
But for the current Panthers players, the biggest display of Mewis’s success is about much more than the stats on paper. W-H currently sits atop the Patriot League at 7-0-2, and Floeck said that taking lessons from alumnae such as Mewis has helped the team stay undefeated.
“Ultimately, we try to convey to our kids that we always want them to be the best versions of themselves,” Floeck said. “They don’t have to be Sam Mewis, but they certainly can take lessons from how she goes about doing things. That old adage that success leaves clues really holds true.”
To Floeck, Mewis is a model after which players can build their game and their work ethic, but it’s up to individual players to find that drive in themselves. Through Mewis’s example, Floeck’s players work to set goals for themselves just like Mewis did in high school.
While she was going through the recruiting process, Mewis was deciding between North Carolina — arguably the nation’s premier women’s soccer program with 21 national championships — and UCLA, which had never before won a national championship. But Floeck said that her decision to attend UCLA came down to the fact that she set a goal to be a catalyst in changing the culture of an entire program.
And after she brought home the Bruins' first national championship in women’s soccer as a junior, Floeck had just one thing to say to her:
▪ The Cape & Islands League has been a toss-up all season long, and it’s coming down to the wire this week. Nauset (6-1-2) and Sandwich (6-1-2) are deadlocked at the top of the league standings, and they’ll face off Thursday at 4 p.m. Last time the two teams met, they battled to a scoreless tie.
After dropping a 2-0 result to Falmouth on Tuesday, Nauset is looking to rebound from its first loss of the season. Sandwich, on the other hand, is on a three-game hot streak after its only loss this year — a 1-0 heartbreaker against Barnstable — a little over two weeks ago.
Games to watch
Thursday, Nauset at Sandwich, 4 p.m. — The Warriors (6-1-2) and the Knights (6-1-2), who tied 0-0 earlier this season, battle for Cape & Islands-Atlantic supremacy.
Friday, Central Catholic at Tewksbury, 3:45 p.m. –— The Raiders (5-1-1) are fresh off a 5-0 win over Lowell and will look to keep the momentum going against the undefeated Redmen (7-0).
Friday, Hingham at Whitman-Hanson, 4 p.m. — Two of the top programs in the state go head to head in a clash that could determine the winner of the Patriot League Keenan.
Friday, Concord-Carlisle at Westford Academy, 4:15 p.m. — Westford (3-3-3) prevailed 3-1 and then 2-1 when these teams met early in the season. Concord-Carlisle (4-4-2) will hope to get in the win column against the Grey Ghosts this time around.
Saturday, Holliston at Ashland, 1 p.m. — The Clockers will try to play the role of shockers and stun the defending Division 2 state champs. The teams will also go head to head Sunday at 11 a.m. in Holliston.