WEST NEWBURY – The Newburyport boys lacrosse team (5-1) won a hard-fought battle over Pentucket (4-2) on Friday, beating the Sachems 8-6 in a game with big Cape Ann League ramifications.
Coming into the game, both Pentucket and Newburyport found themselves one game back of Masconomet in the loss column for the lead in the CAL’s Kinney Division, along with Triton and North Reading. By coming out on top, Newburyport remains within striking distance of the Chieftains, while Pentucket now finds itself facing an uphill battle with a lot of traffic in front of it.
Pentucket got off to a strong start, taking a 3-2 lead early, but a tight defense buttressed by Clipper goalie Dillon Guthro blocked the Pentucket offensive and gave Newburyport a chance to keep the game close.
At halftime, the two teams were all knotted up at 5-5, but Newburyport quickly took the lead in the third quarter following a goal from midfielder Brandon Barraclough. Newburyport junior Matt Kelleher scored twice after that to extend the Clippers’ lead to 8-5, giving Newburyport the insurance it would need to put the game away for good.
Kelleher led Newburyport with 4 goals in total, while Pentucket’s Jeff Porter led the Sachems with 3 goals, followed by Connor Beaton, who scored 2 goals, and Brendan Sullivan, who scored one.
The final minutes of the game were marred by tension between the coaches, referees and fans, as Porter, with two minutes on the clock, darted from behind the Newburyport net for a shot, only to be rammed by two Newburyport defenders. When the referees called a foul on both teams, Pentucket head coach Dan Leary shouted at them, unaware that an additional foul had been committed elsewhere on the field.
“My understanding of it was, there was a cross-check on them, then off-ball there was a slash on us, which I didn’t see,” Leary said. “We both ended up with a man down, so it was still five-on-five. We just would’ve loved to have been at a man advantage with two minutes left.”