Even in defeat, the Pingree girls lacrosse team drew a lot of confidence from its game against Phillips Academy of Andover last week.
The Highlanders suffered a narrow 12-11 setback, with Phillips scoring the deciding goal with seven seconds left in the game. After the initial shock of the heartbreaking loss had subsided, Pingree found itself feeling pretty good.
Pingree now sits at 1-1 heading into its first Eastern Independent League game tomorrow against Newton Country Day, but the Highlanders' confidence level is running high because a year ago they lost to Phillips by 10 goals. They also have played the first two games without their best offensive player, Louisa del Rio.
"They're feeling on top of the world right now, especially with the fact that at the end we played the best defense of the game. We kept stopping them and stopping them," Pingree coach Sarah Powers said. "I don't have subs. We have a very thin bench, and the kids played the entire game. But they played great, and they're a fun team to watch."
With del Rio sidelined, Pingree's Lindsay O'Connell has really stepped up her game in the midfield, while junior goalie Maura Grady remains a rock for the defense.
Grady has already committed to James Madison, and she remains one of the toughest goalies around.
"Maura is out of this world. She's excellent between the pipes. She came up huge against Phillips. All of her 20 saves were quality," Powers said. "I feel like she gives us a relaxed feeling because she's in goal, but she still puts the weight of the world on her shoulders."
Liz Jayne, Eliza Mead, Katie Iverson, Katie Ober and Katlyn Oliver have also been solid for the Highlanders so far.
Powers is expecting del Rio to return to the lineup soon.
"When Louisa comes back, watch out," Powers said. "She's the last piece that could put us over the edge. Louisa will be the midfielder that we need."
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St. John's Prep may have produced its eighth straight victory over Beverly with yesterday's 12-9 win, but the way the game was played will hopefully be a sign of things to come.
The Eagles and Panthers have had a long rivalry, but it has gone in cycles. In the late 1990s to early 2000s, Beverly was one of the top programs in the state and St. John's was trying to reach the same level. Then, in a matter of a year, the roles reversed, with St. John's developing into a Division 1 state power.
Now, Beverly has dropped to Division 2, but if these two programs could reignite a back-and-forth rivalry with one another, it would be great for North Shore lacrosse.
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The Masconomet girls produced an impressive week with wins over Ipswich, Marblehead and Bishop Fenwick. The Chieftains, who are now 6-0, currently look like a team that could make some postseason noise this year if they can keep playing at this level.
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GAMES OF THE WEEK: There are a lot of solid games on the schedule this week, but let's start on the girls' side. Friday's Ipswich at Marblehead contest (10 a.m.) is very intriguing. Both teams are among the best on the North Shore, and each team currently has only one loss, both at the hands of Masconomet. Ipswich also knocked Marblehead out of the Division 2 North state tournament in the semifinals last year.
If Ipswich is going to pick up another win over the Magicians, then it will have to find a way to slow down Kiley Fischer and Meggie Collins, who have been contributing a lot of points for Marblehead so far this season.
On the boys' side, Masconomet has a busy week with matchups against both Reading (Saturday, 10 a.m.) and Billerica (Monday, 7 p.m.). Masco at Billerica has to be the choice because this is the type of game that will prepare the Chieftains for the Division 1 postseason.
Billerica is currently 5-3, but don't be deceived by those losses. The Indians suffered setbacks at the hands of Duxbury (by one goal), Westford Academy (by one goal) and Division 2 power Medfield. A game like this is a great test for Masco and its outstanding middie line of Kurt Hunziker, Tim Towler and Jake Gillespie.
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Lax Lowdown, a column on North Shore high school lacrosse, runs each Tuesday during the spring sports season in The Salem News. Contact staff writer Matt Jenkins at 978-338-2648 or by email at email@example.com.