By Matt Jenkins
---- — PEABODY — There’s always something to play for, but sometimes a little extra motivation can be enough to separate two teams battling for one win.
The Hamilton-Wenham girls lacrosse team arrived at Bishop Fenwick’s Donaldson Field yesterday needing one victory in its final two games to lock up a state tournament spot. That desire to extend their season seemed to pay off as the Generals started fast and held on, defeating the Crusaders 12-9 to punch their postseason ticket.
“We were all hyped up because we knew we had to win one to make the tournament,” Hamilton-Wenham (8-7) coach Amanda Chase said. “The girls were just psyched and ready to go. They came out strong and finished strong.”
Hamilton-Wenham had a stretch of four straight goals and five out of six tallies in the first half to open a commanding five-goal lead. Fenwick (11-6) chipped away late in the game, but the Generals’ Kendell Santin scored with 22 seconds left to end the threat.
“I think, overall, we just didn’t have our best effort,” Bishop Fenwick coach Karen Guillemette said. “We beat ourselves; we made mental mistakes. We just weren’t there mentally.”
The Generals dominated possession in the first 25 minutes; even when they didn’t have control of the ball they kept the Fenwick offense in check. Many times Hamilton-Wenham prevented the Crusaders from settling into their offense.
“We did a good job, especially re-defending in the midfield and the girls really got back fast,” Chase said. “We slowed down their transition and capitalized on all their mistakes. We caused turnovers and got possession back quickly. It was a little sloppier in the second half, but the first half helped out offensively.”
Phoebe Shaw caused lots of problems for the Fenwick defense. Shaw dodged and attacked the Crusader net, setting up her own offense and loosening things up for her teammates. She scored three first half goals and assisted on another.
“Every game it’s kind of been someone different,” Chase said. “We’ve just had one person get fired up and she gets the rest of the team going. Today, it was Phoebe. It’s been other players in past games, but today was just her day.”
Catherine Ecker gave the Generals an 11-6 lead with 11:30 to go, but Fenwick began increasing its pressure shortly after.
Annette Ruggiero cut it to 11-7 with 10:48 to go and Tessa McLaughlin produced back-to-back goals in a 20-second span with about a minute to go. But Santin provided a little cushion for H-W and Fenwick ran out of time.
Shaw ended up with four goals and one assist for the Generals; Ecker added three goals and one helper, and Molly Eagar and Santin each produced two goals and one assist. Grace Papp also scored for Hamilton-Wenham.
McLaughlin scored four times for Fenwick while Ruggiero had three goals. Lexie Rose rounded out the Crusaders’ scoring with two goals and one assist.
“I don’t know for sure, but I feel like we controlled the ball more in the second half. I think we probably won the time of possession battle (in the second half), but we just couldn’t generate anything offensively and they played pretty good defense,” Guillemette said. “We couldn’t get any kind of momentum going. It was one of those games where the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”