PEABODY — Four years ago, the Bishop Fenwick boys lacrosse team blew an eight-goal lead against Georgetown in their last regular season game of the season. The shocking loss officially eliminated the Crusaders from tournament contention.
Since then, that class of freshmen has made it a focal point and goal to not only get back into the playoffs, but make a deep run. And Friday evening on their home turf, they made that aspiration a reality.
Led by some terrific defense and a patient yet effective attack, No. 3 seeded Fenwick upended No. 6 Ipswich, 11-8, to advance to the Division 3 North semifinals. It’s the first time in program history that the Crusaders had advanced out of the second round, and for those freshmen from four years ago who are now seniors, the win couldn’t have been any sweeter.
“It’s pretty insane to be at the 17 win mark,” said Fenwick head coach Steve Driscoll. “Those seniors who were freshmen when that (loss to Georgetown) happened, they knew that they did not want this to end. We’re a program that’s tried to be built culture and the Fenwick standard and after that the X’s and O’s will kind of take care of themselves. I think that these kids have really bought in and understand that it’s important to lift each other up when tough times are happening and making sure that everybody is in the right mindset.”
While the end result benefited the hosts, it was Ipswich who got off to the quick start as Ben Yanakakis netted two quick unanswered goals to open the contest.
But Fenwick didn’t waver.
A timely response from Diego Alvarez-Segee cut the deficit in half before Robbie Favuzza knotted things at two apiece to close out the first. From there, Fenwick seized control in what proved to be a decisive second quarter.
Alvarez-Segee, Brian Harrington, Nick Pasciuto and Stefano Fabiano (2) all found the back of the net in the span of five minutes, giving the Crusaders a monumental 7-3 advantage.
“If I could take back that 6 or 7 minutes there where we just lost a couple of face offs for the first time in the game and didn’t do well down the other end ... take that away and we’re in the ball game,” admitted Ipswich coach Glenn Foster. “They got the ball to their scorers and they have a lot of guys who can shoot; that’s what they do well. And they took advantage in that stretch.”
Ipswich had a last second chance before the halftime whistle to cut back into the lead, but Fenwick’s brick wall of a goalie, Garrett Ruszkowski, made one of his 24 big saves to keep the Fenwick lead at 7-4 at the break. Ruszkowski made a number of other timely stops down the stretch to help preserve the Crusaders lead.
“Garrett was absolutely outstanding,” said Driscoll. “He stood on his head the entire game. I know there’s a lot of goalies on the North Shore but if he’s not in the conversation for the best one then I don’t know who is.”
Ipswich battled in the second half, but trading goals with the hosts wasn’t going to get it done and Fenwick wasn’t playing games offensively. Nick Muzi’s unassisted low sling with 10:09 to go in regulation gave the hosts their biggest lead of the game at 11-5, and the marker all but put the nail in the coffin.
The Tigers did score the game’s final three goals as Lucas Kubaska, Justin Bruhm and Jean-Charles all put one home, but it was too little too late and they ultimately ran out of game clock. Jean-Charles finished with a hat trick in the setback, as did Yanakakis. Assists went to Kubaska (3) and Cade McAdams.
For Fenwick — which advances to the sectional semifinals for the first time in program history and will face No. 2 seed Austin Prep on Monday — Alvarez-Segee, Pasciuto and Derek DelVecchio each had two goals, while Muzi, Fabiano, Robbie Favuzza, Harrington and Joe Rivers all had one. Assists went to Alvarez-Segee, Muzi, Fabiano, DelVecchio, Favuzza (2), Rivers and Jake Connolly. It truly was a full team effort.
“We really felt that we haven’t played a full four quarters and today was close,” said Driscoll. “Today we were right there. Honestly I was a little afraid of halftime because I didn’t want to lose that momentum, but when we’re playing north-south it’s really, really hard to stop us and we kept that up after the half.”