By Jean DePlacido
---- — IPSWICH – Playing a tough schedule at the end of the regular season has its advantages for the Ipswich High girls lacrosse team.
One day after battling to a last-second tie against powerful Marblehead, the Tigers scored a big win over their arch rivals by knocking off a strong Hamilton-Wenham squad, 11-8.
In improving to 10-3-1 overall, the Tigers will finish second in the Cape Ann Small Division with an impressive 8-1 mark.
“We have Masconomet and North Andover left on our schedule and know both will be very tough games,” said Ipswich head coach Nicole Linehan. “We beat Masconomet by two goals earlier, and North Andover is playing well. Our last four games are definitely good tests and will help prepare us for the tournament.”
Yesterday’s game against the Generals was tied four separate times, the last of those 7-7 midway through the second half after Phoebe Snow scored for the visitors. But Ipswich retook the lead for good just 11 seconds later when Natalie Soliozy won the draw and raced downfield to give Ipswich its final lead.
Tigers captain Brigid O’Flynn, who led her team with six goals, then scored her fifth of the afternoon to make it 9-7, but once again Hamilton-Wenham (11-4) answered back. Shaw set up Anna Rourke in front of the net and she beat sophomore goalie Eliza Statile (15 saves). But O’Flynn added an insurance tally with just under three minutes remaining, and when a penalty was called on HW the Tigers passed the ball around effectively to maintain possession.
Statile made her biggest save of the day when she denied Shaw on a breakaway bid in the final minute, and Olivia Moutevelis scored her second for Ipswich on a buzzer beater.
“We needed someone to step up and take over in goal. Eliza has been a huge surprise and a defensive force,” said Linehan. “She started the season as a field player and had very limited experience in goal. She has been terrific.
“I was also pleased with the play of senior Courtney Long on defense. She has great body position and got the job done slowing down their offense.”
There were three goals in the first minute of play, all coming off the draw. Catherine Ecker scored the first of her three for the Generals, but Soliozy and O’Flynn answered for Ipswich. O’Flynn’s second goal less than four minutes in gave her team a 3-1 lead, but H-W stormed back with goals by Rourke, Ecker (man up) and Franny Ambrose to go ahead, 4-3. The Tigers knotted it up on a free position shot by O’Flynn and took a two-goal lead at intermission after scores by Ellie Swenson and Moutevelis.
“I had a lot of help because we have such good players to assist,” said O’Flynn. “Natalie (Soliozy) did a great job feeding me. A lot of props go to my teammates, who put the ball right on my stick.”
Hamilton-Wenham used its speed to get breakaways and kept the game close. They also tightened up their defense in the second half and prevented Ipswich from getting as many shots off but had no answer for stopping O’Flynn, who scored three times in the second half.
“What a good game,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Amanda Chase. “This is a tough loss for my girls because we played hard against a very good team. Our defense came together to shut down their explosive offense for long stretches, and I’m pleased with the whole team effort.”
Sophie Clark had two assists for Ipswich while Swenson had one. Emily Gaucher picked up an assist for the Generals.