By Matt Jenkins
---- — MARBLEHEAD — When Peabody High senior Josh Fiore scored midway through the second quarter yesterday, the Tanners had pulled within one goal — and host Marblehead appeared to have a battle on its hands.
Instead of opting for strategic adjustments during halftime, though, Magicians’ coach John Wilkens focused on the mental side of the game ... and the team responded with a huge second half.
Marblehead scored seven straight goals at one point, breaking open a tight game and cruising to a 12-5 win over the Tanners at Piper Field.
“We had to play with a little passion, with a hunger,” Wilkens said. “Lacrosse is a game of momentum and if you play with enthusiasm, it’s amazing.
“These are high school kids and sometimes they’re down, sometimes they’re up, so you gotta push them a little bit. But, yeah, it was a nice second half.”
Dean Fader scored for Marblehead (2-2) with just under six minutes to play in the first half to push the Magicians’ lead to two goals (5-3), which stood up until halftime.
Jack Collins scored early in the third quarter to help send Marblehead on its long run. The Magicians outscored Peabody 4-0 in the third quarter to take control.
“It was too bad, because we worked really hard. We’re still finding our way offensively and finding the right guys in the right spots,” Peabody coach Anthony O’Donnell said. “We played with them the whole first half. We made a couple mistakes, not slide with the body. And we gave up in the fourth quarter; that’s real disappointing because that’s not us. We’re going to have a talk about that.”
Peabody did play with the hosts throughout the first half, holding its own at the faceoff X, playing tough defense and finishing a few opportunities.
The Tanners (1-2) are obviously going through a transition period, however, especially on the offensive end. Peabody graduated three starters at attack, including the school’s all-time leading scorer, Keifer Heckman.
“I think they have to be more confident with the system and more confident in themselves,” O’Donnell said. “No. 9 (Josh Fiore) has played middie his whole life and now I have him at attack, but he did great down there today. We need other guys being confident on their dodges and knowing the system and running the system. When they abandon it, that’s when it looks bad and it’s not lacrosse; it’s just one guy going to the cage and everyone else standing around watching him.”
Jeremiah Manfra and Reed Foster joined Fiore as first-half goal scorers for Peabody.
Once Marblehead started putting some goals together, everything seemed to come more easily. The Magicians started winning possession and shining on the defensive end.
“Once guys get a couple goals and you get a lead on a team, teams tend to get down on one another and you just take advantage of it. You start putting some more in, your confidence gets going and it just takes (off) from there,” Wilkens said.
“We’ve got some freshmen, a few juniors, seniors and a couple kids injured. We’re all over the map, but today it was great. We had a lot of guys contributing. When you only have two guys in the scoring that’s not good; you’re not going to win like that. When you get multiple guys contributing, you get the win.”
Dean Fader (3 goals, 1 assist), Charlie Thompson (2-0), Sam Paquette (2-0) and Brad Knittle (1-1) played well offensively for Marblehead, which also got some solid goaltending from Nathan Maselek.
Marblehead heads to Beverly Tuesday for a big Northeastern Conference showdown. “That’s the team everybody circles on their calendar,” Wilkens said. “Every year these guys play each other in football and hockey, so they know all these guys. They know them off the field and on the field and for the seniors, it’s their last two shots to play them. It’s a big rivalry.”