By Matt Jenkins
---- — HINGHAM — Through the first 23 games of the season, the Beverly boys lacrosse team was only held to single digits six times. Only once was it limited to less than five goals.
With no fewer than six scoring threats on the field at all times, the Panthers’ offense had to be considered one of the most dangerous in Eastern Massachusetts lacrosse.
But yesterday in an East Division 2 semifinal, that dangerous offense met its match as top-seeded Hingham held the Panthers well below their scoring average in an 8-4 win. Hingham will now play Medfield Wednesday at Harvard Stadium in the East Div. 2 final.
The Harbormen (21-3) locked on to Brendan Flaherty, Dom Abate and Ryan Shipp and played tight defense everywhere else, forcing Beverly to beat them from the outside in, which also put pressure on the Panthers to maintain possession.
Beverly didn’t have many quality scoring chances, and even when it did, Hingham senior goalie Thomas Bannan made the tough stops.
“They were having all their shots from at least 10-15 yards out. Our D-middies were doing a great job in the crease, keeping on their crease guys, too,” Bannan said. “Our transition defense did a great job compared to last game (against Winchester), when we struggled a little bit. They scored almost all their goals in transition; this game, I don’t even know if we gave up one in transition.”
Hingham hit Beverly (19-5) with a three-goal first quarter and held a 5-1 lead at halftime. David Freitas scored his third goal of the game just six seconds into the third quarter on a man-up situation. At that point, it seemed as if Beverly’s window was closing.
Needing goals of its own, Beverly watched Hingham freshman Jacob Brodie score back-to-back goals in the final two minutes of the third quarter for an 8-1 lead.
“We didn’t have it today. The defense played well; (senior) Andrew Irving stepped on a ball yesterday at practice, and he’s got eight pounds of tape on his ankle, so he couldn’t go (all out) today, but he still played well (on defense),” Beverly head coach John Pynchon said.
“I think in the second half, we picked it up defensively, but offensively we couldn’t do anything because their goalie made so many saves.”
Ryan Shipp, who scored Beverly’s first goal early in the second quarter, netted his second goal with 12 seconds to play in the third quarter, giving the Panthers a little bit of life.
Beverly played well in the fourth quarter, throwing tons of defensive pressure at the Harbormen and outscoring the hosts 2-0 on goals by Abate and Flaherty.
“They’ve got a good group of kids that play hard, and we just, I think, were able to withstand the heat a little better, and the up-and-down a little bit better,” Hingham coach John Todd said. “They want to play the up-and-down, and we’re capable of playing that.
“I think we won the ground ball battle today; that was the key. We won the faceoff battle, which gave us faceoffs early and let us get up on them.”
It’s hardly surprising that Beverly didn’t go down without a fight. The Panthers were a senior-laden bunch intent on making the Orange-and-Black a postseason threat again.
“The seniors have been great for us; they’re awesome. They’re great kids, they’ve worked really hard, and they took Beverly lacrosse back to where Beverly lacrosse should be,” Pynchon said. “It’s going to be tough to lose Brendan and those guys, but I think the examples they set for the younger guys, they’ll be able to step up. They know how to do things the right way.”
Nick Albano had an assist for the Panthers, joining the point-scoring group of Shipp, Abate and Flaherty.
Jacob Brodie and Freitas each finished with three goals for Hingham, while Caleb Brodie and Matt Giarrusso each had one goal and one assist.
“They’re playing the best they’ve played this year, and I think they’re one of the best teams we played this year, if not the best team,” Pynchon said. “Wednesday, you’re going to see the two best teams in EMass. for Division 2, Medfield and Hingham.”