PEABODY — The Peabody boys lacrosse team was huddled during a timeout in sudden death overtime last night against Salem when one of the assistants asked head coach Anthony O’Donnell if the Tanners had anything special left.
O’Donnell didn’t hesitate.
“I told him, we have Keifer Heckman,” said O’Donnell.
Peabody’s All-Northeastern Conference attackman got the ball low to start the play, jogged to his left behind the cage, and then curled up the left-side of the net on a simple, isolation play from X. Heckman didn’t get much separation, but he fired a shot with his off-hand past Witches keeper Will Meadowcroft to give the Tanners a 16-15 win in a wild, up-tempo NEC bout.
Heckman, who finished with five goals and three assists, has grown accustomed to having his number called in the big moments of games. Peabody finished the regular season at 11-9 after scoring a huge win at home on Senior Night.
“In the huddle coach (O’Donnell) said to me ‘Keifer, just pick up the ball. You got this,’” explained Heckman. “I’ve been in that position before. That’s really it.”
Whether it was the wet conditions or nerves, the game’s slow start was a surprise considering the offensive talent both squads boast. But in the second quarter, both offenses took over and between the third and fourth quarters, 22 goals were scored.
“I think it was a little bit of nerves for both teams,” said Salem (11-8) head coach Anthony Nardella. “We both like to push the ball and play in transition. We certainly like to push the ball.”
Lightning caused the halftime to last an extra 15 minutes but it didn’t slow either team down coming out of the break. Salem pushed its lead to as many as three before Heckman and fellow attacker Nick Ouellette (five goals, one assist) took over the game.