By Jean DePlacido
---- — PEABODY — The Danish Cup lacrosse game is always special for both Peabody and Bishop Fenwick. The 4th annual game, named for the founder of Peabody lacrosse Bob Danish, who also has strong ties to Fenwick, was won by the Tanners, 16-7 under the lights at Donaldson Field.
Peabody (5-3) had a balanced attack with Nick Ouellette, Josh Fiore, Eric Hennessey, and Keifer Heckman scoring three goals apiece. Heckman, who is rapidly closing in on Greg Welch’s all-time Tanner scoring record, led the way with seven points while Ouellette and Fiore both had six point nights, and Hennessey chipped in with four.
All three coaches in the history of Peabody lacrosse — Danish, Kevin Houlden, and Tony O’Donnell (current coach) were there. Fenwick head coach Leo Shidler and his assistants Greg Shidler and Vin Cincerullo all played for Peabody.
“This is a night when memories are made,” said O’Donnell. “I told my seniors they would never forget winning the Danish Cup. When I started coaching in Peabody Bob Danish was around a lot, and it meant so much to both Kevin (Houlden) and me to have his input.
“Fenwick came to play tonight, and those kids are not afraid to hit. That’s what I like to see. I coached Leo and his assistants; they’re all Peabody guys.”
Before the game players from both teams lined up for a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, and four balloons were released above the field — one for each person killed in the attack.
The Tanners never trailed, wasting no time getting on the board with Ouellette and Hennessey scoring in just over the first minute. Hennessey had a hat trick by the end of the first quarter, and Peabody led 4-1.
“We had a great start, and it was nice to bounce back after the loss to Marblehead,” said O’Donnell. “We won the first three faceoffs and what a difference that makes. Instead of having to go on defense right away, we had possession and were able to score.
“Faceoffs have been a problem this year, but not tonight. Mike Vidala, Reed Foster, Jeremiah Manfra, and Ryan Wolff all did a nice job winning them.”
The Tanners reeled off four unanswered goals to start the second quarter stretching the lead to 8-1. Ouellette was set up by Wolff, and then Heckman assisted on Vadala’s man-up goal. Ouellette picked up assists on the next two scores by Heckman before Chris Napolitano (two goals) answered for the Crusaders.
“We didn’t get a good start, and that’s been a problem all year, but we never give up,” said Shidler after his team dropped to 3-5. “I love playing this game against Peabody. It means a lot to me and my assistants because we all played for Houlden and Tony.
“Heckman and Ouellette are fantastic attackmen. I coached them at the youth level so I’ve known how good they are for a long time. We tried to shut Keifer off by making an adjustment on defense, but unfortunately we gave away the middle, and they made us pay.”
Peabody had a 10-3 lead at halftime and increased it to 14-4 after three quarters. Heckman opened the fourth quarter scoring by finding the back of the net after taking a pass from Fiore, who was named MVP of the game for his performance.
Fenwick answered with the next three goals. Troy Reinold, who led his team with five points, set up Kyle Russell (goal, two assists) then scored the next two before Foster (two goals) answered with a man-down goal for the Tanners. O’Donnell cleared his bench, and Brandon Rapoza replaced Evan Connolly in goal. The win may have been costly for Peabody as Ouellette injured his shoulder and had to sit out the second half.
“I am very honored to be chosen MVP,” said Fiore, a sophomore midfielder, who was presented with a large cup. “Mr. Danish is a highly respected guy in Peabody lacrosse, and it’s always fun to play Bishop Fenwick. We’re both Peabody teams and have a great rivalry.”
Goalie Jake Brennan received the MVP honor for Fenwick.
Peabody was very efficient in man-up situations, scoring five times while four of Fenwick’s goals came after the Tanners were penalized. Foster and Vidala each had two goals for Peabody, and Wolff picked up an assist. For the Crusaders, Aidan Moulton and Mark Nalesnik had a goal apiece.
Danish presented the cup to O’Donnell and captains Connolly, Andrew Najjar, Ouellette and Heckman.
“Enjoy these days because they go by fast,” Danish told the players on both teams. “You make a lot of friends now, people who will be your friends for life.”