NEWBURYPORT — The phrase “defense wins championships” has become something of a cliche in sports over the years, but for the Newburyport girls lacrosse team, a strong defensive performance against Bromfield could literally spell the difference between a state championship and an unhappy ending.
Led by the explosive tandem of sophomore Sophia Turchetta and senior Jackie Planchett, the Trojans’ offense has rolled over just about every team it’s faced this season, and this weekend the Newburyport defense has the monumental task of trying to shut it down.
Despite the challenge, the Clippers’ defenders feel they’re up for the task. After all, as much as the team’s offensive production has grabbed the headlines this season, the defense’s ability to shut down opposing attackers has had just as much to do with the team’s success, if not more.
“We know what we have to do,” said senior defender Mary Pettigrew. “We’ve been working on the same things all season, and there’s nothing that we have to change. As long as we stick to what we know, then we’ll be fine.”
Since overcoming a rough start to the season, the Newburyport defense has locked down just about every team it’s faced. The Clippers have held their opponents to nine goals or fewer in 12 of 19 games this season, including all but three of the team’s games during their ongoing 13-game winning streak.
Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder said the key for the defense has been trust, saying that the players know they can count on their teammates to back them up, which allows them to focus more on their own specific job.
“They work really well together, they trust each other. When something is going wrong, they talk to each other and fix it,” Batchelder said. “They’ve come together really well as a unit and the biggest thing about defense is trust, and these guys all trust each other. It makes them a good defense because they can take chances.”