After nearly a decade of sharing the field, Arianna Bezanson and Olivia Anderson are apart for the first time.
Anderson, a two-time All-State defender at Danvers High, is now a freshman on the women’s soccer team at Colgate. So Bezanson, a dynamic three-year standout for the Falcons who is the state’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year, enters her senior season without Anderson as a teammate for the first time in 10 years.
But they will reunited next fall in Hamilton, N.Y., when Bezanson enrolls as a freshman at Colgate.
The duo got a glimpse of what their future will look like as they scanned the Colgate training packet together over the summer.
The pair’s training regimen included mostly ball work and conditioning, but also featured a drill called “Upper 90,” in which Bezanson and Anderson practiced nailing top-corner shots that scrape just out of a goalie’s reach.
Bezanson and Anderson met while playing Under-9 for Aztec Soccer, made a jump to FC Stars together five years later, and were a formidable duo at Danvers over the last three years.
“We always push each other,” Bezanson said of her training partner.
It’s a good thing that they push each other, too, because Bezanson said she feels as if she has a lot to prove. The versatile 5-foot-4-inch midfielder is far from alone on the Danvers roster, but as a veteran starter on varsity she’s used to the pressure.
“I feel like [being named Player of the Year] definitely does add some pressure, but I feel like the pressure is expected,” Bezanson said. “I feel like every year, there’s just pressure to do your best, and pressure to help your team.”
After a 22-goal, six-assist performance in just 11 games last season, Bezanson is returning with a fire motivated at least in part by the lack of an MIAA postseason last season. But even without incentive, her teammates say she’d still work just as hard on the field.
“When you have a player like that, it really raises the level of play of the rest of the girls in your program, because she holds them at a high standard,” Danvers coach Jimmy Hinchion said. “I mean every practice, they’re becoming stronger players because they’ve got to be able to keep up with her.”
In tryouts, Danvers captain Gabby Chisholm noted Bezanson is “constantly trying to beat her own scores.”
“She could just walk in the building and she’s going to make the team, but she’s constantly fighting for her spot and she always gives her best effort, which is amazing to watch,” Chisholm added.
Through all that training, artful footwork and breakneck speed have become hallmarks of Bezanson’s game. She dances around defenders, whether she’s looking to pass or going to goal herself.
“There’s no doubt she’s a goal scorer,” Anderson said.
“She finds a way to get around everyone, even if there are people marking her constantly. She’s such a great player, but she’s also one of the most selfless players I’ve ever met. if there’s a pass on, she’ll play that instead of holding the ball too long.”
Bezanson’s dancing skills aren’t limited to the field, as she and Chisholm fill their free time singing and dancing to blaring music in Bezanson’s basement. Though Chisholm didn’t have high praise for their dancing skills — ”I’ll be honest, neither of us can dance,” she said — the two love making goofy videos and TikToks to their favorite songs.
“She’s so funny, it’s absolutely insane,” Chisholm said. “She’s just a good time. She’s always there for you when you need her, but then she always knows how to make you laugh.”
Bezanson and Chisholm have one final season together before going their separate ways — Bezanson to Colgate and Chisholm to Saint Anselm — but the loss of one training partner means the gain of another.
“It’s great, just knowing you have that person,” Anderson said.
“You know you’re going to have them for a while … and it’s just, like a sense of comfort. Knowing we played in high school and we played club together, it’s like a glimpse of what college is going to be like.”
▪ With Casey Grange taking on additional responsibilities as assistant athletic director at Central Catholic, Jami Hayden was promoted to head coach for the Raiders, a perennial contender in the Merrimack Valley Conference and Division 1 North. Hayden, née Styrczula, who starred at Haverhill High and later played at Assumption, coached the freshman team for one season, the junior varsity for four, and served as Grange’s varsity assistant the past five seasons.
“I know all the girls, I know the system, and I feel very comfortable with it all,” Hayden said. The Raiders have 11 seniors on the roster, all of whom contributed to an 8-1-2 finish last fall.
▪ Concord-Carlisle, which finished 4-3-2 last fall in the always-challenging Dual County League, is moving from Division 2 to Division 1 as part of the MIAA’s divisional realignment for the statewide tournament. There are 58 girls’ soccer programs in D1, including DCL rivals Acton-Boxborough, Cambridge, Lincoln-Sudbury, Newton South, and Westford. “In our league, we already play against several Division 1 schools,” said C-C coach Peter Fischelis. “We are looking forward to it. It will be a great test for our program.”
▪ Former Globe All-Scholastic goalkeeper Olivia Dubin (Newton South) will start as a freshman at Holy Cross, and former Lions teammates Lottie McLeod (WPI) and Grace Penna (Union) are also beginning their college careers. Back at South, sophomore Amanda Cosgrove, athletic and technically sound, is ready to step in as the starter in goal for coach Doug McCarthy, who guided the Lions to a 9-2-1 mark and the DCL Cup in 2020.
▪ Medway, which has an enrollment of 672 students, has moved from Division 2 to D3. “It’s still going to be a tough tournament,” coach Jason Rojee said. “There are great teams in every division.” The MIAA’s new division alignment: D1 (58 schools), D2 (62), D3 (65), D4 (54), and D5 (83).
Correspondent Cam Kerry also contributed to this story.