LYNN — The South women came from behind in the second half to beat North, 12-11 in the opening game of the Agganis Classic lacrosse doubleheader at Manning Field in Lynn. It came down to a thrilling finish when Marblehead’s Cassie Rodgers raced down the middle in the final seconds only to have her shot blocked.
Bishop Fenwick’s Grace Celona, who had five of the North’s six first half goals, was named MVP for her team. The South win evened the tally at 1-1 in the second year lacrosse has been added to the Agganis schedule.+
“It was awesome playing with such great talent,” said Celona, who will play at Iona next year. “It was so much fun being on the field with these girls with so many going on to great schools. I played against Marblehead in the tournament, and it was so nice to be on the same team with a lot of those girls.”
Marblehead’s Annie Pugh coached the North while her rival Winchester’s Suzanne Ontso took charge of the South. The coaches last battled in the Division 2 North finals.
“It is an honor to be selected to coach,” said Pugh. “This game was a little less competitive than the last time Suzanne and I coached on opposite sides. It was back and forth, and we had a good chance to tie it up at the end. A very talented group was chosen to play for both teams, and I think that just shows how lacrosse in Eastern Mass is starting to really flourish.
“Celona is an outstanding player. She played for me three years ago on the Lower New England team in a national tournament. So many girls stepped up tonight. Allie Forman (North goalie from Marblehead) had a great game against some top shooters from Norwell and Winchester. Bridgewater State is lucky to get her.”
North led 6-5 at intermission but South stormed back led by MVP Mary O’Connell of Norwell, who is going to Middlebury, and Winchester’s Megan Hennessey (Providence College). O’Connell finished with three goals and six assists.
“I had so much fun playing with so many of the girls I played against all year,” said Marblehead’s Kiley Fischer, who will play at Babson. “This game was so close all the way.”
In the boys nightcap, North shot out to a 6-0 lead and went on to win, 11-6. It was the second straight year North has prevailed. Connor Brimley of Chelmsford, who scored four goals, was named MVP. South honors went to goalie D. J. Smith of Billerica, who was in net for the second half.
Brimley and Peabody’s Keifer Heckman worked well setting each other up. Heckman finished with two goals and two assists. Beverly’s Ryan Shipp also had a pair of goals, both in the second quarter. The teams played four 15 minute running time quarters because of the threat of thunderstorms.
“This was great because it’s the last time I will play with my buddies so I just went out there to have fun. Brimley and I had a connection right from the start,” said Heckman, who will play at Southern New Hampshire.
“I just love playing with so much talent,” said Shipp, who staked his team to a 7-1 lead. “When there’s this much talent on the field you don’t have to worry about scoring because so many others can do it.”
Masconomet goalie Tighe Van Lenten started for the North squad and made some huge saves to hold South to just one goal in the first half.
“I love competition, and it was great to deny some of their shooters,” said Van Lenten, who will play at Keene State.
Other local players that scored for North were Kevin Marescalchi of Swampscott and Salem’s Chad Coelho while Shea Doyle of Danvers got a goal for South.
“We got off to a rough start, but were able to come back,” said Ian Maag of Marblehead, who will play for Phillips Andover. “Even though we didn’t win we all had a great time.”
“It was a fantastic game, and we had a good bunch of guys,” said Marblehead’s John Wilkens, who coached the South with Billerica’s Craig Flynn. “The way the North came out it looked like they had been practicing together. They really moved the ball around, but we played well in the second half. This is such a nice way for the kids to end their high school careers.”