BEVERLY — The Beverly High boys lacrosse team played the first quarter of yesterday's game against visiting Hamilton-Wenham exactly the way head coach John Pynchon hoped his team would: fast and with the lead.
But when Generals head coach Jim LaSelva switched to a zone defense for the second quarter of play, the sea of blue jerseys seemed impervious to Panther penetration.
To cross an ocean, you need a vessel and the Panthers had just the Shipp to sail them to victory.
Beverly junior attack Ryan Shipp poured in a team-high six goals, including a pair to start the third quarter, as Beverly bulldozed Hamilton-Wenham, 12-6.
"Last game we came out flat in the second half (in an opening game loss to Winchester), so today we just tried to come out full speed and take advantage," Shipp explained after the game. "I was able to score two goals and it was good for the team."
Elliot Burr opened the game for Hamilton-Wenham with a goal after he bowled his way to the front of the net. But Shipp exposed the Generals 1-on-1 coverage as well, taking isolations from both the wing and the X positions. The Generals weren't quick enough on their slides and no one made Shipp pay for his points, so the junior finished the first quarter with a hat trick.
When the Generals box-and-2 zone halted the Beverly offense, Shipp played the role of setup man in the second quarter, finding fellow attackman Brenden Mitchell on backdoor crease cuts for a pair of goals before the half to keep the Panthers ahead by three goals.
"They move well without the ball and we weren't covering the back side," explained LaSelva, a former Beverly High player (Class of 1987) and assistant coach. "They are Beverly, so they're a good team and hard to cover."
Mitchell took advantage of a lack of communication between the H-W long poles (who were caught ball watching) and showed his ability to finish around the net. Mitchell scored three goals, all on crease cuts and all off feeds from Shipp.
"(Shipp) is a kid who never has a moment without a lacrosse stick in his hand. He just loves lacrosse. This was the first of many great games for him," said Pynchon.
"(Mitchell's) a hockey guy, so he knows how to cut. He did a good job of finishing inside.
"That zone was a good (move) by LaSelva; that threw us off and really slowed us down. But like I said, Mitchell is really good at finding those seams."
Burr helped Hamilton-Wenham (0-2) keep pace in the first half as no one on the Beverly defense seemed capable of shutting him down. However, like the Generals failed to do with Shipp, Beverly made Burr pay in the second quarter as Dom Abate unleashed a big hit after Burr scored from just outside the crease. Abate was assessed a penalty for a late hit, but the message was sent and Burr was held scoreless in the second half.
"He's a great player and is going to have a great year," Pynchon said of Burr. "He is really big, really strong and he can move. It's not going to be just us who has trouble with him."
The Generals' Dakota Stevens capitalized off of some chaos in front of the Beverly cage, sweeping a hockey-style shot past Beverly keeper Jimmy Chase (8 saves) in the third quarter. Christian Ecker and Eddy Frick also found the back of the net for H-W, which begins its Cape Ann League schedule this week determined to put one in the win column.
"We come into the league (schedule) now with three games next week. We have to pick it up and pull together," said LaSelva. "We'll learn from this, but we also need to have short memories. There's 16 more games on the schedule."