By Matt Jenkins
---- — The Beverly boys lacrosse team has already advanced deeper into the East Division 2 tournament than it ever has before, but the Panthers would like nothing more than continuing their charge forward.
Beverly’s best East Div. 2 postseason run previously was in 2010 when it lost to Concord-Carlisle in the quarterfinals. Tomorrow afternoon (2 p.m.) the Panthers will play at No. 1 Hingham (20-3) in a semifinal, with the chance to play for the East championship at Harvard Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Panthers can’t afford to and don’t want to look ahead because they know they have a very formidable opponent standing in their way.
“I’ve seen them play. Coach John Todd does a great job with them,” Beverly (19-4) coach John Pynchon said after his team defeated Wayland 9-4 in the quarterfinals. “They have a couple kids who are phenomenal. They’ve got two great poles, a really good goalie, and a bunch of good offensive guys. They’re a No. 1 seed for a reason; they’re really good.”
Hingham, which earned the No. 1 seed after an excellent regular season, is riding a 12-game win streak, but a better sense of the Harbormen’s strength can be gathered from their losses.
All three of Hingham’s setbacks came by one goal and each happened in April. Losses to Division 1 powers Needham (7-6) and Duxbury (8-7 in overtime) sandwiched a 7-6 loss to North Andover.
Hingham also played St. John’s Prep in April and defeated the Eagles, 9-5.
Beverly and Hingham have two common opponents — North Andover and St. John’s Prep — and both teams went 1-1 in those games.
Beverly defeated North Andover, 14-7, in the first round of the tournament and suffered a 13-11 loss to St. John’s in mid-April.
Hingham has a balanced attack but is led by attackman David Freitas, who scored six goals in the teams’ quarterfinal win over Winchester, midfielder Bleak Boyce, and goalie Tommy Bannan.
Just like Hingham, Beverly has talent all over the field.
Ryan Shipp, Dom Abate, Brendan Flaherty, Andrew Irving, Ty Martz and goalie Kevin Lally were each named Northeastern Conference first-team all-stars this spring. Teammates Nick Albano, Conor Leahy and Dylan Jutras were each second-team all-stars. Lally was co-Defensive Player of the Year.
Many of Beverly’s standouts are seniors who have been contributing and gaining experience in each of the last four seasons.
“Survive and advance, that’s it,” Flaherty said after the win over Wayland. “We just want to keep doing what we’re doing. Hingham is a very good opponent, so we gotta go back to practice and keep working at it.”
One of the bonuses in this game is that the Panthers would likely be considered the underdog.
“We’ll play them hard and see what happens,” Pynchon said.