LYNN — It didn’t take much to motivate the Danvers girls’ soccer team in Monday night’s Division 2 North final against Winchester at Manning Field.
All coach Jim Hinchion had to do was bring up last year’s final — a 3-0 loss to Arlington — and the Falcons responded.
Junior Riley Baker slotted home the winner off a deflection in the 61st minute, lifting Danvers to a 1-0 victory and its first sectional title since 2009.
“We reminded them just before they took the field in the second half what it was like last year when we didn’t win this game,” said Hinchion.
The Falcons (18-2-1) will play the winner of Tuesday’s Division 2 South final between Notre Dame Academy and Medway for the state championship on Saturday. Danvers is seeking its first state title in school history.
With 20 minutes remaining, Baker won possession in the midfield and sent a ball down the left sideline. Sophomore forward Abby Cash gathered the ball, and fired a shot that Winchester keeper Silvia Dowdell parried away.
Baker was sitting at the back post, and slotted the loose ball into the back of the net with her right foot.
“I just one-timed it in,” Baker said. “I took a deep breath, just relaxed myself, and shot.”
Winchester (17-2-2), the second seed, didn’t go quietly. The Middlesex Liberty co-champion mounted pressure in the closing minutes. Danvers senior keeper Mackenzie Gilmore denied Winchester’s Ella Stone with four minutes to go, and the Sachems couldn’t muster a better chance.
“In these wet conditions, she had great hands,” Hinchion said of Gilmore. “They put a lot of pressure on late . . . you’re just trying to hang on any way you can.”
Danvers had several chances in the first half, but couldn’t beat Dowdell. Hinchion felt that his halftime reminder of last year’s sectional final loss woke up his team.
“I felt it was kind of frustrating,” Hinchion said. “We had so many opportunities . . . that we just didn’t take advantage of.”
Now, with just one game separating them from their first state title, the Falcons are looking to keep it rolling.
“It feels awesome,” Baker said. “I’m so excited to play more.”Matt MacCormack can be reached at matt.maccormack@