PEABODY -- When the fourth annual Danish Cup had come to its conclusion, Peabody lacrosse coach Anthony O’Donnell could finally exhale.
Keeping the Danish Cup trophy within Peabody High’s walls -- and away from Bishop Fenwick -- is always a high priority, but it seemed like there was much more at stake this year. Peabody is a team in transition and confidence wasn’t exactly at an all-time high coming into Saturday’s game against the Crusaders. The Tanners were riding a six-game losing streak, and O’Donnell was in the process of tinkering with the lineup.
Adding to the game’s intrigue was the fact that first-year Fenwick coach Ralph Ruocco teaches the Junior ROTC unit at Peabody.
So, the Tanners’ 8-5 win over their cross-town rivals was equal parts confidence-boosting, reassuring and comforting.
Peabody has now won the Danish Cup in each of its first four years.
“We really needed it,” O’Donnell said after his team climbed to 3-8. “This is a good one to win, too.”
The Danish Cup is named after and played in honor of Bob Danish, who started the Tanners’ lacrosse program. Danish also began his coaching career as an assistant football and baseball coach at Fenwick.
Danish was on hand to present the postgame championship and MVP trophies.
“I teach here at Peabody High School and I worked with Mr. Danish early on in my career, so it’s an honor to have him here and for us to play here,” Fenwick’s Ruocco said.
“Peabody was the better team today; they did everything right. They were hustling on the ground balls, they moved the ball and we couldn’t get our offense untracked.”
Fenwick’s inability to generate much offense was due in large part to Peabody goalie Matt Cloutman. He earned the game MVP trophy after coming up with some key stops from point-blank range, especially late in the game when the Crusaders were trying to make a push.