By Matt Jenkins
---- — BEVERLY — Every game has the moment. Most commonly referred to as the turning point, it’s the spot when one team pulls away or the other makes its move.
Rarely is “the moment” put in the hands of a freshman playing in just his fifth varsity lacrosse game, but that’s exactly what happened yesterday afternoon at Beverly High School.
Clinging to a two-goal lead with possession, but playing a man down through a two-minute locked-in penalty, the Panthers came out of a timeout and put the ball on Sam Abate’s stick. The shifty freshman quickly beat a double team and found the cage to extinguish a dangerous Marblehead threat.
Beverly never looked back and Marblehead didn’t score again. The Panthers ran away from their Northeastern Conference rivals for a 9-4 win.
“We said, ‘Sam you’re going to take him to X and come back and go to the goal.’ And he did it and stuck it. He’s a stud,” Beverly (4-1) coach John Pynchon said. “People can see when he’s got the ball on his stick, he’s dynamic, he’s a dodger. That was great. I had no question in my mind when we called that timeout. I’m like, ‘Boom. Sammy you’re going.’”
Abate is the younger brother of Dom Abate, the Panthers’ go-to offensive player for the last three or four years. Dom Abate is now in his freshman year playing college lacrosse at Springfield College.
Beverly needed Abate’s goal in a big way.
The Panthers controlled play early, opening a 4-0 lead in the first quarter, and held a 6-3 halftime lead.
Even though Marblehead had been clearly out-played in the first half, it only faced a three-goal deficit and Ben Anderson cut it to two when he scored off a pass from Brooks Tyrrell.
The two-minute, locked-in penalty came a few minutes later, and it appeared to be the break the Magicians needed.
“We had an opportunity. We doubled the ball and it didn’t work,” Marblehead coach John Wilkens said. “We played flat today. They were the better, fundamentally sound team. It comes down to basics and we didn’t have it today and they did.”
On the heels of Abate’s game-turning goal, Nick Albano put home a feed from Jordan Rawding to increase the lead to 8-4.
“At that point I think it was like, all right we got this thing,” Pynchon said. “This game is nice, but all it means is we gotta win another one at their place in May. It’s nice, but it doesn’t mean that much.”
Pynchon expects Marblehead to get better after this game, and so does Wilkens.
The Magicians lost to Beverly by six goals in their first meeting last year, then rebounded with a one-goal win later in the season.
“It’s the little things, the basics. We played a terrible game today and the guys know it, and you just gotta go back to the drawing board and re-tool,” Wilkens said. “These are the things you learn from. Last year we lost 12-6 here, kind of got our doors blown off and this was the same thing. They know what to do (to get better).”
Tyrrell finished with one goal and one assist for Marblehead while Anderson, Harrison Young and Sam Paquette each scored one.
Abate scored three goals for the Panthers and Albano added three goals and two assists. Rawding and Hunter Spencer each had one goal and one assist. Ian Butler also scored for Beverly.