By Matt Jenkins
---- — WAYLAND — It was announced during pregame introductions that the Wayland boys lacrosse team had the top rated defense in Eastern Massachusetts after surrendering less than four goals per game.
The Beverly lacrosse team was not intimidated. In fact, that little tidbit served as motivation for Beverly’s offense and defense.
The Panthers scored four goals in each of the first two quarters and the defense stood out, especially in the second half when Wayland played with a sense of urgency, and Beverly rolled over the Warriors, 9-4, in an East Division 2 quarterfinal.
Beverly (19-4) will play at top-seeded Hingham Friday (5 p.m.) in a semifinal.
“When they announced that our kids got fired up. Our defense got fired up,” Beverly coach John Pynchon said. “They wanted it. Midway through the third I went over there (to the defense) and said, ‘Four is it. Close the door; don’t let them score again.’ They stuck with it and Wayland had three good scoring opportunities and (goalie) Kevin Lally came up huge.”
Pynchon praised his defense, particularly Andrew Irving, Ty Martz, Mike Dooling, Dylan Jutras, Lally, Jack Atherton and Jordan Rawding, for taking control of the game when Wayland changed the pace.
Sensing their season was on the line, the Warriors started the second half with two quick goals, cutting the Beverly lead to 8-4. The Panther defense immediately tightened up and began forcing Wayland into frequent turnovers.
Then, when the Beverly offense took the ball it became even more patient.
“As an offense, we talked about possession being more important than a goal. If it’s going well and we’re on a run, then take the risk, but otherwise pull it out and don’t do anything crazy,” Pynchon said. “At the same time, if you do turn it over, then ride, ride, ride.”
That’s exactly what the Panthers did, putting pressure on Wayland all over the field when it did gain possession.
“They’re a real good possession team, real athletic,” Wayland (19-4) coach Joel Bates said. “It was tough to go through that big possession and come down and toss the ball away. That makes it tough. We tossed it away too many times today.”
Beverly’s fast start also put Wayland in an unfamiliar hole.
The Warriors posted three shutouts this year and only had one game where they allowed more than 10 goals. Still, Beverly got four goals in the first quarter, three from Brendan Flaherty, and added four more in the second quarter. During those two quarters the Panthers enjoyed a seven-goal streak.
“They were good (defensively) and we took it as a challenge, accepted it and did well,” said Flaherty, who led all scorers with four goals. “All season, we like to get up and down. We have a pretty athletic team, so we like to get moving and control the pace of the game.”
Dom Abate scored one goal and dished out two assists, Nick Abate had a pair of goals, and Ryan Shipp and Brian Williams scored one goal each.
Wayland got two goals from Roby Williams and one apiece from Jimmy Lampert and Carson Hart.
The day ended much better than it began for Beverly and Pynchon.
“Our bus was late. I was losing my mind. I was in such a bad mood and the kids reacted perfectly. They knew what we needed to do, they got right out here and got our warmup in and it was great,” Pynchon said. “The Reading game (in the regular season) our bus was late, we had a bad warmup and we came out and gave up six goals in the first quarter. I think the kids learned from that game. Brendan Flaherty scored three goals in the first five minutes. He was just like, ‘We’re doing it.’”