By Mac Cerullo
---- — NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport girls lacrosse team stumbled out of the gate yesterday in their season opener against Beverly, falling into a big hole early en route to a 10-5 defeat.
Having been stuck inside for the first three weeks of the spring season due to poor weather conditions, the Clippers initially struggled to adjust to playing on the field, and as a result Beverly was able to jump ahead to an 8-0 lead by halftime.
Once the Clippers had a chance to gather themselves, however, things went much better. Newburyport outscored Beverly 5-2 in the second half, and coach Catherine Batchelder said she was encouraged by her team’s response to a tough situation.
“We played much stronger and played the way we are capable of,” Batchelder said. “I was proud of the girls in the second half. It was definitely a stronger effort and I think we’ll build on that going forward.”
Senior Julia Kipp led the way for the Clippers in the second half, scoring four goals to help put a dent in the Panthers’ lead. Ali Peffer added a goal, and Olivia Kearney tallied an assist to round out the scoring for the Clippers.
Going forward, Batchelder said she believes she has a strong team, and despite yesterday’s setback, she’s excited for the upcoming season.
“I think we’ll make the state tournament again, and judging from the first few weeks of practice, we have a really strong group of girls who are working hard together. I think we’re going to come together really well and I’m optimistic about what the season holds.”
Last year, Newburyport went 12-6 and lost to Wayland 17-8 in the second round of the state tournament. This year’s team returns a number of noteworthy players from that team, including Kipp, Peffer, Kelly Conway, Mary Pettigrew, Shannon Tinkham, Brenna Williams and Lily Donovan.
Batchelder said there are six new players on varsity, and as a result the team’s inexperience may prove to be its biggest weakness.
One newcomer the team is excited about, however, is freshman goalkeeper Izzy Sarra. Despite yesterday’s difficult result, Batchelder said that Sarra has shown a great deal of promise throughout the preseason and she’s excited to see how she progresses over the course of the season.
As for the Clippers’ biggest strength, Batchelder said the team’s mix of veterans on attack and defense can be counted on to perform well on both sides of the field. With that balance, Batchelder said she’s confident in her team’s ability to compete with just about anyone they come up against.
“We have a lot of veterans returning on both attack and defense, so these guys have all played together for four years and they make up our solid core,” Batchelder said.
Newburyport will be back in action tomorrow afternoon when they face Ipswich on the road. The game is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.