By Matt Jenkins
---- — BEVERLY — In a test of endurance — on Marathon Monday, no less — the St. John’s Prep and Beverly lacrosse game came down to which team had the legs to sprint to the finish line.
The Prep, which was in desperate need of a win, found the strength to pull away on the home stretch, going on a four-goal run in the final five minutes to knock off the Panthers, 17-14, in a hotly contested shootout at Beverly High.
“It’s big. We got thumped on Saturday (15-5 loss to Hingham). We were really flat and laid an egg,” St. John’s (3-5) coach John Roy said. “It’s nice to come out and rebound with this because they’re well coached, they have good athletes, good lacrosse players and for this vacation week going forward, it’s really positive for us.”
Andrew Gallahue scored three of his team-high five goals in the fourth quarter, including two in the final four-goal stretch. His tally with 5:09 to play gave the Eagles a 14-13 advantage and jump-started the game-clinching run.
“We couldn’t execute a clear. I think one of the (late goals) might have been Gallahue when he dodged and made that great shot,” Beverly (5-2) coach John Pynchon said. “He was unstoppable for a point there. That dodge he scored on, that was a legit Division 1 play.
“I think we ran out of steam a little defensively, and really it was a one-goal game. In the end, we just couldn’t execute our end of game stuff.”
Perhaps Beverly’s inability to execute down the stretch was due to a lack of energy after storming back from a five-goal deficit in the third quarter.
A back-and-forth first half was turned on its head when the Prep scored the final three goals of the second quarter, then added the first three goals of the second half.
What was a 5-4 Beverly lead had transformed into a 10-5 St. John’s advantage with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter. Two goals apiece from Drew O’Connell and Joey Cavallaro, plus single tallies from Shawn Waldron and Sam Frick had given the visitors a seemingly comfortable cushion.
Beverly responded, however.
After Beverly’s Nick Albano and St. John’s Prep’s Owen Rockett swapped goals, Albano went on a personal four-goal run to cut the Eagles’ lead to one, 11-10.
Albano then fed Rick McFarland for the game-tying goal with 22 seconds left in the third quarter, and Matt Page gave the Panthers the lead early in the fourth quarter.
“Battling back was excellent. We gave up three or four to start the third quarter and it was like, ‘Come on, what are we doing here?,’” Pynchon said. “Then, Nick every time would just run by his guy and score. He scored four straight, which was huge. He’s been awesome for us.”
Even though Page gave Beverly the lead early in the fourth, the break between quarters seemed to slow some of the Panthers’ momentum.
“We needed to possess the ball on offense. We were taking some quick shots early in the possession,” Roy said. “At the end of the first half, when we had momentum, we had the ball on the offensive end of the field and we needed to go back to that. They started pressuring a little more on defense, making it harder to possess, but we just needed to be on the offensive end working hard to hold on to the ball.”
Beverly’s comeback may have taken a little too much out of the Panthers. St. John’s ended up winning the fourth quarter, 6-3.
Gallahue led the Prep with five goals, Cavallaro scored four, and Frick contributed three. Rockett had two goals and three assists, O’Connell finished with two goals and one assist, and Waldron had one goal and one assist.
Albano produced five goals and two assists and Page chipped in with five goals and one assist. Sam Abate, Hunter Spencer, Peter Mulumba and McFarland each had one goal. Defenseman Ty Martz added an assist.
Beverly goalie Kevin Lally stood on his head to keep the Panthers in it, especially in the first half when he made 14 of his 23 saves.
“Lally played out of his mind. We gave up a lot of shots. We had a lot of defensive breakdowns and that’s disappointing because we had been playing really good defense to this point. The film is not going to lie; we’ll see where the breakdowns occurred,” Pynchon said.
“It will be nice to see how much we’ve learned from this game. We try and play the best teams around because it helps us get better. We’re going to get better playing St. John’s and Acton-Boxboro (the Panthers’ opponent on Saturday). We’ll be all right. This is a learning experience, as usual.”