By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT — This past fall, Newburyport seniors Julia Kipp and Ali Peffer were two of the best players on an undefeated state champion girls soccer team. So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the girls lacrosse team raised the championship trophy above their heads this past Saturday, Kipp and Peffer were front and center in the celebration.
It’s hard to understate how important the two senior captains were to this year’s girls lacrosse team. The two All-League selections combined for 185 goals, 40 assists and 225 total points, accounting for 81 percent of the team’s total scoring output, and they also won a combined 99 draw controls, which more often than not led directly to goals.
The two also came up with huge plays consistently throughout the team’s state tournament run, helping lead the Clippers to three straight comeback victories in the North Semifinals, the North Finals and in the State Semifinals, all of which Newburyport trailed at halftime.
Then, in the state championship game against Bromfield, Kipp and Peffer each scored twice to help their team keep pace with the high-powered Trojan attack. Peffer’s second goal came with 20 seconds left in the first half to break a 6-6 tie, and in the end it proved to be the game-winner after the Newburyport defense turned in an epic second-half effort to shut down the Bromfield offense.
For all of that, The Daily News is proud to honor Kipp and Peffer as its 2014 Girls Lacrosse Players of the Year.
Having been a part of last fall’s undefeated state champion girls soccer team, Kipp and Peffer carried themselves with a level of composure that you’ll rarely find on a team with just one postseason win in its history coming into the season.
That composure helped the team regroup after the Clippers fell to an 0-3 start out of the gate, and then dropped to 2-4 after mid-April. Following their 7-6 loss to eventual Cape Ann League champion Masconomet, the Clippers refocused and then didn’t lose another game for the rest of the season, scoring in double figures every game the rest of the way until the championship game.
Every game was the same story. On April 29 against North Reading, Kipp had five goals and two assists, and Peffer had four goals and one assist. On May 7 against Pentucket, Peffer had six goals and Kipp had five, and on May 16 against Triton, the pair combined to score 16 goals in front of the home crowd on Senior Day.
Once the postseason started, the pair torched Triton again in the second round of the state tournament before leading a second-half comeback to beat Manchester Essex 10-8 in the North Semifinals, avenging one of their losses from earlier in the year.
Then in the North Finals against Marblehead, the Clippers had a performance that most of the players would cite as the highlight of their season prior to winning the state championship. The Clippers came from behind multiple times in the second half before finally winning 12-11. Kipp and Peffer combined for seven goals in that game.
Finally, in the state semifinal against Norwell, the Clippers trailed 6-3 late in the first half when the Newburyport offense gained possession with 10 seconds on the clock. Rather than rush the net, the Clippers calmly rotated the ball around to Peffer, who made a move to the front of the net and scored with two seconds left to cut the deficit to 6-4.
The Clippers dominated the second half, with Kipp scoring arguably the iconic goal of the season when she forced a turnover and scored on a clean break to the net to tie it at 7-7. Newburyport would go on to win 11-9, and the rest after that is history.
Kipp will play soccer at Union College in upstate New York next year, while Peffer will attend Drexel University, and though their high school careers are now over, their legacies at Newburyport High School will surely live on for a long, long time.