By Jim Sullivan
---- — Having lost two of its best midfielders in JJ Bajako and Tyler Matses during a loss to Masconomet a little over a week ago, the Newburyport boys lacrosse team has kept things going with wins over North Reading and Austin Prep last weekend, and then Triton yesterday.
The Clippers (11-3) clinched their third victory in a row with yesterday’s 12-6 victory over the Vikings (3-13).
“Being down a couple of guys with Tyler and JJ not being here, we’ve kind of changed the focus of our offense,” said Clippers assistant coach Todd Francis, who was filling in for head coach Ed Gaudiano while Gaudiano was attending his daughter’s graduation. “And I couldn’t be happier with the last three games we played without them, and the ability of (the team) to spread it around.”
With Sebastian Hardin and Brendan Barraclough at mid for their injured teammates, the Clippers have always been able to stand behind the offensive brilliance of sophomores Matt Kelleher and Mike Shay, but coming out from their shadow yesterday was fellow attacker Nick Federico, who notched four goals.
“It’s good to put a couple in,” said Federico, a junior. “Instead of being the one getting the assists all game, it’s good.”
As usual, Shay wasted no time getting going, scoring just under one minute in on Triton goalie Nolan Smith. But Triton showed they had some fight in them two minutes later when Larry Cuddy scored his first goal of the day on Clipper net-minder Dillon Guthro, then scored his second less than a minute and a half later. Newburyport came right back at the first quarter’s half minute mark when Kelleher hit his target, followed by another from Shay.
Drew Bourdeau kept up the Clipper attack at the start of the second quarter but was answered by Vikings attack Will McCaffery. Nick Federico scored his first and Port’s fifth goal of the afternoon, followed by a pair of back-back goals, the first from Shay, the second from Federico to give the Clippers the 7-3 advantage at the half.
“(Kelleher) and (Shay) are feeding me, I’m feeding them,” said Federico. “We are just keeping the ball moving and everyone gets goals.”
Paul Dacy drew the Vikes a little closer at the start of the third quarter, and things settled into a back-and-forth rhythm until Federico dumped it in dead center past Smith at the 4:29 mark, followed less than a minute later with another by Barraclough past Smith’s left side.
Will Fogel pulled off a vicious midfield steal for the Clippers with a minute and a half to go in the third quarter, and buried up high to give the Clippers the 10-4 lead.
Dacy cut the Port lead in half next before Federico had his fourth goal of the day, then Dacy had his third goal with a little over four minutes left to play.
Senior Nick Mombello scored Port’s 12th goal of the day to send Port home on a high note.
“We’re really making it a team offense as opposed to an individual,” said Francis. “If we can continue to keep moving the ball, keeping it a dynamic motion offense, we’ll be in good shape.”
“We want to keep the momentum going,” added Federico.
Triton coach Sean Parsons did not make himself available for comment.