By Dan Harrison
---- — PEABODY — Both Peabody and visiting Marblehead struggled with consistency in yesterday’s Northeastern Conference match up.
But a dominant third quarter from the Magicians sealed the Tanners fate as the road team scored a big 17-12 win thanks to a seven goal third quarter.
Both teams now sit at 4-3 on the season.
“Guys started moving the ball (in the third quarter) and when you move the ball quickly it makes it tough for the defense to cover,” said Marblehead coach John Wilkins. “Good teams are consistent. We got a little complacent in the fourth quarter but overall the guys ran hard. We have to cut down on some of those errors but Peabody is a good team. It’s a good win.”
Senior Ian Maag didn’t struggle with inconsistency in any area of his game. The midfielder tallied three goals and an assist in the third quarter alone finishing with a game-high seven markers and three assists. Marblehead’s advantage ballooned from two goals to six by the beginning of the fourth.
“Maag had a great game, he’s an extremely consistent player for us,” noted Wilkins. “He sees the field. He puts in the extra work and it shows.”
Equally as important as his scoring touch was Maag’s ability taking faceoffs. He helped Marblehead hold a 20-11 mark on draws including a 9-2 advantage in the third quarter that allowed the Magicians to extend what had been a two-goal lead at the half to a six-goal lead headed into the fourth quarter.
Maag was strong on draws but it was also the Magicians hard work on ground balls all game that helped them control the face offs.
“I don’t think we won a faceoff (in the third quarter),” explained Peabody head coach Anthony O’Donnell. “Not having possession kills you.”
The Tanners played different zone looks defensively and, especially in the early stages of the game, Peabody was intense and stout defensively. However with so many possessions, eventually Marblehead was able to find the seams in the zone and work the crease efficiently.
Longpoles Andrew Najjar and Ross DeRoo competed hard defensively along with defensive midfielder Reed Foster.
“My defense played great,” explained O’Donnell. “They just played too much of it. Eventually Marblehead was able to find the seams (in the zone).”
What really killed the Peabody defense were goals from the outside. Tanner keeper Evan Connolly (14 saves) made tough saves throughout the game but also battled screens and couldn’t see the ball at times.
The Magicians’ shots were fast, accurate and came from multiple guys. Maag, Dean Fader (three goals), Brooks Tyrrell (one goal, two assists) and Trevor Jones (four goals, one assist) all found the back of the net on shots from the outside.
“They did a good job of screening my goalie,” said O’Donnell. “Nobody can save those when you don’t see the ball until it’s already on you.”
The few times Peabody did leave the crease open Harrison Young (four assists) burned the Tanners with pin-point accuracy in his passes from behind the net.
“They (Peabody) run some zone packages so you have to find the seams, look for the guys in the crease and wait for them to make mistakes,” said Wilkins. “You have to be patient and figure it out. And my guys did that.”
The Peabody attack turned in another strong performance. There may not be a guy on the North Shore capable of shutting down Keifer Heckman (three goals, four assists), who scored twice on tremendous individual moves and assisted on another early in the game to give Peabody a 3-1 lead in the first quarter.
Fellow attackers Nick Ouellette (three goals, one assist) and Eric Hennessey (three goals) give the Tanners a top-tier group in the offensive end. O’Donnell believes there’s no better group in the league.
“My attack is the best attack in the league,” remarked O’Donnell. “No one we’ve played has been able to figure out how to stop number 25 (Heckman). He’s averaging seven points a game.”
As good as the Peabody attack is, the midfielders need to help in the scoring department. Outside of Heckman, Ouellette and Hennessey the only other Tanner to score was sophomore Josh Fiore.
Fiore was outstanding on both ends of the field and he kept Peabody in the game in the first half scoring all three of his goals in the second quarter to tie the match after the Tanners had fallen behind 6-3.
“Josh is very coachable, I only have to tell him things once,” said O’Donnell. “He has a very high lacrosse IQ. He makes adjustments and he’s good on ground balls. He’s not afraid.”