By James Pouliot
---- — NEWBURYPORT – The Newburyport Clippers dealt a crushing blow to the rival Triton Vikings varsity lacrosse team Friday, posting a final score of 18-8. While Triton’s season is over, the Clippers will advance to face the Manchester Essex Hornets in the Division 2 North tournament semifinals.
Newburyport is now the odds-on favorite to win the Division 2 tournament, after Bishop Fenwick’s upset of the top-seeded Ipswich in Thursday’s quarterfinals game.
Led by senior Julia Kipp, the Clippers quickly set the tenor of the game, scoring three goals within the first five minutes of play. Provoked, the Triton offense took the jump ball off the third goal and charged, putting their first goal of the game with little contest and spurring their offense to a strongly team-based game, with nearly every player getting looks at the goal.
But a lax Triton defense kept the attackers out of play while Newburyport’s top shooters, Julia Kipp and Alexandra Peffer, launched salvos at the Viking goal. Kipp and Peffer are the league’s first and third leading scorers, respectively, and were responsible for two thirds of Newburyport’s goals. Before the game, official numbers gave Kipp a total of 78 goals and 24 assists, while Peffer boasted 71 goals and 11 assists.
A Vikings crowd filled Newburyport’s stadium and remained hopeful as Triton trailed 6-9 at halftime, but that hope was quickly battered down by a series of Clipper charges. Kipp and Peffer weaved and rolled past defenders with ease. Distraught fans cursed the referees from the stands as repeated fouls by Triton gave Newburyport a wide open field to shoot from.
Newburyport coach Catherine Batchelder congratulated her team after the match, lauding the team’s strong offensive core that she said is due to innovations in their tactical planning.
“We had a big, big game from all of our attack” she said. “We usually attack the ball from the top, and we’re trying to come around the crease more...I thought the plays that we were running today worked really well.”
Batchelder is now looking forward to the semifinals match against the Manchester-Essex Hornets. She hopes that this game will showcase Newburyport’s resurgence in the latter half of the season. The Hornets soundly defeated her Clippers while they struggled to find their feet at the beginning of the season.
“They’re very good, they’re very fast,” Batchelder admitted. “We’re gonna have to slow them down in transition.”
An emotional coach Stacey Beaulieu of Triton congratulated her team on making it to the quarterfinals. She felt it was a strong showing, coming from a disastrous season just two years ago.
“Two years ago, we just had one win, and now we have one win into the state tournament.” Beaulieu said. “I’m really proud of this team and the season they’re had...There’s no reason for any of these kids to hang their heads, they should be proud of themselves.”
Triton has faced off against Newburyport in two previous games this year, losing both times. But Beaulieu was happy with her team’s performance in this final face-off.
“We did everything we could, Newburyport just had a little more than us,” she said. “But we worked hard and looked at all the field...We knew what we had, we knew our opponent.
“I’d do nothing different. We put our kids where they needed to be, and they did a great job.”