, Newburyport, MA

April 5, 2008

Despite comeback effort, Sachems hold off Royals Chase goal seals the win

By Evan Mugford

AMESBURY — A driving, diagonal rain. Check.

An overcast sky. Check.

A frigid breeze that pushed spectators onto their heels. Check.

These are the conditions the Pentucket and Georgetown boys lacrosse programs played in yesterday, and despite the inhospitable elements, this great rivalry was a fun game to watch.

Postponed once and then moved to the Amesbury Sports Park, the Sachems and Royals showdown delivered on all accounts when the game was finally played. An assortment of great defense, big hits and crisp goals did their best to warm the faithful crowd. In the end, it was the Pentucket fans who left the most thawed out.

Fending off a Royals comeback, the Sachems won a 14-13 nail-biter, netting the game-winner with a minute left on Dylan Chase's fifth goal of the day.

The first quarter saw Georgetown (0-1) jump out to an early lead when David LaFlamme flew in for a swooping tally, but Pentucket answered right back thanks to an Alex Connolly goal. Both teams seemed content with trading goals early on.

The second quarter was a turning point for the Sachems, as the they began to settle down and make fine-tuned aggressive plays on the net. Goals by Chase, Tom Clark (2 goals), Ben Stasiuk (2 goals) and Taylor Cahill (2 goals) invigorated the team and prompted sideline celebration from a gang of drenched teammates.

The Royals kept things close and never seemed out of the game. Along with LaFlamme, Robbie Gibb (2 goals), William Smith, Nick Sheffield (3 goals) and James McGillicuddy all added key scores to keep the game in reach. The Sachems led at the half, 9-7.

Due to the unrelenting weather and wise judgement on behalf of the game's two referees, the halftime break was cut to five minutes instead of 10, and the team's were quickly back on the field.

Once the game resumed, the Sachems (1-1) surged forward and took hold of the third quarter. The stubborn Pentucket defensive corps did its job impeccably, and captain goalie Alex Roberts (17 saves) only let up two scores to the Royals' Joseph Butera's (14 saves) four.

With the game in hand, time management and crafty defense was on call for the Sachems, but protecting a lead was a lot harder when a once vibrant offense suddenly went stagnant.

The Royals showed true resolve and forced themselves back into the game. Once down 13-9, scores by Brandon Wade, Aaron Rice (3 goals) and Gibb carried Georgetown back into a stalemate, 13-13.

With time winding down, as he had done all afternoon, Chase found the back of the goal for the game-winning score. Cam Spofford came up with the game-winning assist on Pentucket's first win of the season.

Though his team lost its season debut, coach Matt Bouchard was glad with the Royals' effort and knows that they'll be able to make up ground when they face Bishop Fenwick tomorrow.

"Anytime when you're in a situation where you're down the number of points that we were, and you battle back and make a game out of it," said Bouchard, "that shows the true character of the team.

"A handful of guys stepped up today, and I think after today's offensive showing, we're headed in the right direction," said Bouchard. "We're going to need to clean up our transition game, begin games better, and take advantage of our fast-break opportunities."

After losing to Manchester, 9-4, in the season opener, Pentucket coach Geoff Beckett was pleased with the turnaround.

"After the loss. I really think we stepped up on all cylinders," exclaimed Beckett. "It was all over the place actually, but our goalie did a nice job and kept us ahead.

"The second quarter was the difference in the game for us," said Beckett. "We really started to click on offense, and from there we managed to break through their defense and put in some good goals."

Roberts was relieved to get the first victory of the season.

"This is a nice win. It was our first home opener and beating Georgetown, which is a big rivalry of ours, made it that much better," said Roberts.

"It was all about offense today, though our defense really tightened up when they came back to tie it at 13. But that's when our defense kicked in even further and forced them to take more outside shots which in turn made it easier for me to save.

"Our slides were there on time, and we were attacking the net," added Roberts. "That's Pentucket lacrosse."