By Dan Harrison
---- — CAMBRIDGE — In sudden death overtime, everyone on the lacrosse field is hoping for just one more possession.
Unfortunately for Beverly in the Division 2 state semifinal against Hingham yesterday at Harvard Stadium, the Panthers came up one possession short.
After Sam Abate’s shot attempt was stopped by Jack Santilli, Hingham’s Matt Rosso took the ball to the Beverly net and beat Kevin Lally to give the Harbormen the 9-8 overtime win.
The Panthers (14-9) scored twice in the final two and a half minutes to send the game to sudden death but Hingham (19-5) found its footing after a shaky end to regulation.
“They (Hingham) are the best team we played all season and today we played the best we’ve played all season — and they still beat us,” said Beverly (14-9) head coach John Pynchon. “Give Hingham credit because they responded (in overtime). A lot of other teams would have been broken. That was a great lacrosse game.”
Beverly tied the game (at 6-6) on Ricky McFarland’s goal early in the third but then the Panthers went a little over 19 minutes without scoring. With the Panthers down a pair, Santilli lost the ball trying to make a throw out of the crease and Hunter Spencer made him pay by cutting the lead in half at 8-7.
Then, after Lally made a save with under a minute remaining, Pynchon took a timeout. With just 16 seconds left, Ian Butler beat Santilli shortside to force overtime.
“Obviously we didn’t do a good job in the final two minutes and they were able to claw their way back and take advantage of our mistakes,” said Harbormen skipper John Todd. “In overtime we said, ‘Let’s just get another possession.’”
The Beverly defense held strong throughout the contest, especially in the second half where the Panthers only allowed two goals before the eventual game-winner in overtime.
Even more impressive was the fact that Harbormen All-American midfielder Caleb Brodie didn’t register a single point against the Panthers.
Caleb’s younger brother Jake Brodie was Hingham’s leading goal scorer with a hat trick. He scored twice in the first half-both times scooping up groundballs in a crowd in front of the Beverly net and firing quickly past Lally.
On set plays though, the Harbormen really struggled against a Beverly defensive unit that was playing sophomore Jake Berry in place of senior Dylan Jutras. Lally meanwhile made 18 saves.
“We shut him (Caleb Brodie) off and when he did have the ball we slid early. He’s an All-American so we wanted to limit his touches,” explained Pynchon. “We executed the game plan exactly how we wanted.”
Hignham’s defense focused on shutting down Nick Albano (one goal, two assists), whose only goal was Beverly’s first of the game. The junior attacker factored into the game-tying goal in a big way as he drew the majority of the Harbormen’s attention, holding the ball to the side of the net before firing a perfect pass to Butler.
“We knew they were going to key on him (Albano). I thought Nick did a good job moving the ball and the game-tying goal is a good example,” said Pynchon. “The defense was ball watching his way and he passed it over the top and Ian sticks it. That’s the stuff Albano has done all season.”
Spencer and Matt Page both had two goals while McFarland, Butler, Albano and Clinton Cabral had a marker each. Abate added two assists.
But the Hingham defense held strong in the second half and as heavy rains began to fall late in the third quarter, the game slowed down a lot. The conditions mixed with the Harbormen’s halftime adjustments helped stymie the Beverly attack until Spencer was able to capitalize off of Santilli’s clearing mistake.
“We did a much better job of sliding and containing their 1-v-1 looks,” noted Todd. “We became more aware. We weren’t going to rely on one guy to stop one guy. No one can at this level.”
Beverly scored twice on the man-up in the first half and then McFarland’s bullet came just seconds after the Hingham player was released but before he made it back into the play.
The Panthers man up unit was a big reason why the team came out of the North.
“Throughout the season our man up would be good then bad, then good then bad. We put in three simple plays (before the playoffs) and the guys worked on them and put the time in,” said Pynchon. “Against Danvers, Wakefield and Marblehead we had to be close to 80-percent. And today we had two. That’s just those guys learning and putting the time in.”