WEST NEWBURY — It’s been a long, long time since the last time Pentucket girls soccer beat Newburyport, and for a while Tuesday it looked like the wait was going to last at least a few weeks longer. After a thrilling, back and forth first half, Newburyport took a two-goal lead after junior Matigan DeFeo fought her way through the defense and scored on a bouncing ball.
In years past, that probably would have been that. But not this time.
Trailing 5-3 with under 10 minutes to play, Pentucket mounted a furious comeback, scoring three quick goals — including two from freshman Sabrina Campbell — to hand the Clippers a stunning 6-5 defeat. It marked the first time since Sept. 15, 2010 that a Pentucket girls soccer team has beaten Newburyport, and when the final whistle blew the Sachems could hardly believe what they’d just done.
“Honestly from the last whistle of the game I was just in shock, because I can’t remember our program having a strong game against Newburyport,” said junior Mackenzie Currie, who led the Sachems with three goals, including the game-tying strike with five minutes to play. “It just feels unreal beating them.”
“I really, really wanted it,” said junior defender Syeira Campbell. “We’re always losing to them, but I really had hope that we could do it.”
The game was a barnburner right from the jump, as both teams exploded out of the gate with a combined three goals in the opening 15 minutes. Pentucket took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Jacey Jennings, and minutes later the Clippers tied it up after freshman Deirdre McElhinney finished an attempt by Cricket Good, who put a shot on net following a corner from Meaghan O’Leary.
Newburyport took its first lead a few minutes later after Molly Webster received a birthday gift from the defense in the form of a juicy turnover. The sophomore took advantage and finished to make it 2-1, but Pentucket answered once more when Currie unleashed a howitzer from more than 30 yards out to tie the game at two.
A flurry of offense followed in the last 10 minutes before halftime. Newburyport scored two quick goals within minutes on a pair of deep thru-passes, the first courtesy of a beautiful ball by Li McClure easily finished by Good, and the second off a bouncing ball corralled and scored by Kelsey Soule.
Currie scored her second goal of the game off a Jennings thru-ball just before halftime, making it 4-3 at the break. Things seemed to settle down for most of the second half, until DeFeo gave the Clippers a two-goal lead off a bouncing deep ball.
Needing a spark, Pentucket began to press forward, with Campbell at one point taking matters into her own hands and making a dizzying run from the back line all the way into the box. Her big push was blocked by Newburyport goalie Anneliese Truesdale, but her aggressiveness would pay off not long after when she advanced the ball up the left side and crossed it to her younger sister Sabrina Campbell, who beat her man in the box and scored to cut the deficit to one.
Moments later, Currie was able to pounce on a misplayed ball by the Newburyport defense and charged ahead to the Clipper net.
“I just kind of heard my dad’s voice in the back of my head, he used to be a college coach and I’d always hear him say ‘one touch around and find the goal,’” said Currie, whose father Wayne spent 15 years as Emmanuel College’s women’s soccer coach. “So that went through my head and I found the back of the net.”
Currie’s game-tying goal wasn’t the end. With only about four minutes to play, another turnover was picked up by Sabrina Campbell, and the freshman delivered the go-ahead goal to send the Sachems into a frenzy. Pentucket nearly added a seventh goal before the final whistle, but Truesdale was able to save a Pentucket penalty kick to give her team a fighting chance.
Pentucket was able to hold on, however, and afterwards the Sachems made no effort to downplay how special a victory it was.
“It’s good to see the girls not give up,” said Pentucket coach Dan Millard. “I think for many years I don’t think we’ve ever really gotten a result against Newburyport for years, I don’t know when the last time was. So it means a lot to them.”
Pentucket (2-0-1) will look to continue its hot start when it nexts hosts Manchester Essex, while Newburyport (1-2) will try to bounce back at home against Ipswich. Both of those games will be played Thursday at 3:45 p.m.
Pentucket 6, Newburyport 5
Goals: P — Mackenzie Currie 3, Sabrina Campbell 2, Jacey Jennings; N — Deirdre McElhinney, Molly Webster, Cricket Good, Kelsey Soule, Matigan DeFeo
Assists: P — Jennings 2, Syeira Campbell, Currie; N — Li McClure, Meaghan O’Leary, Good
Saves: P — Ashlynne Reade 7; N — Anneliese Truesdale 11
Newburyport (1-2): 4 1 — 5
Pentucket (2-0-1): 3 3 — 6