By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — Both the Marblehead and Peabody High girls lacrosse teams can take a lot of positives out of yesterday’s exciting game between the two rivals — a clash that wasn’t decided until the final minute of play.
The visiting Magicians found a way to stem the tide after Peabody had scored five unanswered second half goals, turning a two-goal deficit into an 11-9 victory after netting the game’s final four tallies.
“Peabody had momentum in that second half,” said Marblehead head coach Annie Pugh, her team now 6-5 on the season after beating the Tanners for the second time in as many tries this spring. “They’re aggressive and talented; our strength is our stick skills. Once we started winning the draws, we were able to regain the lead.”
Senior captain Emily Freedland’s fourth goal tied it up at 9-9 with just under five minutes left after Marblehead won the draw. Sydney Cayen then got the game-winner 39 seconds later after another draw control.
Goaltender Brittany Lydon made a huge save for the Magicians on Peabody’s Sarah Napolitano on a free position shot with two minutes left before Freedland added a man-up goal in the final seconds.
“We held it for almost two minutes, and then coach wanted us to shoot to secure the win,” said Freedland, who will play basketball at Bates College next year. “Draws are important, and we won some big ones. Usually we get off to a slow start, but today we won the (opening) draw and scored right away which was important.”
It was a disappointing loss for the host Tanners, who played well and gave Marblehead everything it could handle. Peabody’s goaltenders, starter Alison Hennigan and backup Joanna Ambeliotis, were both injured, so freshman attacker Gianna Denisco stepped in and did an outstanding job against an explosive Marblehead offense.
“That’s the first time Gianna ever played goalie and I can’t say enough about the great job she did,” said Peabody (3-6) head coach Dennis Desroches. “She volunteered because we needed somebody to do it and was outstanding.
“What we tried to do was control time of possession, and we were able to do that in the second half. The kids were very patient waiting for opportunities. The last three draws at the end of the game were the difference, though. Marblehead is so strong to the goal; losing those draws decided this game.”
Marblehead shot out to a 5-2 lead after a Freedland goal, but Peabody cut the deficit to one on tallies by Courtney Smith (who finished with 4 goals) and freshman Lauren Wolf (2 goals). But Freedland (5 goals total) and Cayen answered before halftime, giving the visitors a 7-4 lead at the break.
“We had freshman Ellie Ronan take the draws and moved Cayen into the circle to take advantage of her height and speed. That worked well, and Freedland had an outstanding game,” said Pugh. “She stepped up like a true leader to help us win a close one. I thought Caroline Helmes stood out on defense and had some clutch ground balls. She also came up with a big turnover, and Lydon made an outstanding save at the end.”
It was all Peabody for the first 19 minutes after intermission, however. Denisco set the tone with two huge saves before Smith scored three in a row to tie it at 7-7.
The Tanners’ patient attack against the tough Marblehead defense paid off when Aly Bortone scored her second of the game. Wolff used her speed to cut to the front of the net and beat goalie Brittany Lydon to give Peabody a 9-7 lead with just over six minutes remaining.
Lucie Poulin had two goals and two assists for Marblehead while Kelsey Detels also scored twice and Amanda Gregory also had an assist for Marblehead. Napolitano also scored for Peabody.
“To hold Marblehead to seven goals for most of the game is outstanding,” said Desroches. “We’re improving with every game, and we can play with the best in the league.”