The Salem field hockey team is growing up quickly.

Pinkerton discovered that last Saturday when the Blue Devils won what has become a terrific rivalry, 2-1, to improve to 8-1, giving notice that they're a force to be reckoned with.

With 39 freshmen and sophomores on a roster of 44, veteran coach John Gatsos knew that it would take some time to develop into the kind of unit that he likes. But it hasn't taken much time at all.

"Every game we've gotten better and that's all you can ask for," said Gatsos. "My style is to play aggressive, move it up the field quickly and it took four or five games for the younger players to realize how we play.

"We play a lot of kids, usually all 20 every game and they're all improving."

The win over Pinkerton reflected a lot of that improvement.

Sophomore Amanda Travaglini did a superb job guarding Pinkerton star Jordyn Hamilton one-on-one, sophomores Erika Smith and Abbey Raymond scored the goals and trusted senior Danielle Ferraro had an assist.

"Abbey is one of those girls who have improved the most," said Gatsos. "She has seven goals (equalling last year's total already), a number of assists and has been very aggressive.

"Danielle (Ferraro) is the same way. She's become more of a scorer and, with Sara (Frahm), who I can't say enough about, and Samantha (Gauvin), gives us great leadership."

It all came together Saturday against a Pinkerton team that Salem hadn't beaten in three years and had been outscored by 7-2 in two losses last year.

"We have a great rivalry with Pinkerton and the girls were excited to win," said Gatsos. "This game goes a long way as a confident boost and to get us ready for the tournament."

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