(Newburyport) “The start was rough,” said Newburyport Clipper defender Jack Hadden afterwards, “but I kept reminding the guys that it wasn’t over yet.”
“It was only 3-0 so there was obviously a comeback waiting,” he added.
And there was as Newburyport (2-1) regrouped and went on to defeat Pentucket, 8-6, on Friday night.
“Pentucket is tough, and they won’t give you anything,” said Clippers coach Josh Wedge post-game. “I don’t think we were fully ready to earn anything at the start of the game.”
In the first eight minutes, Pentucket (1-1) had unanswered goals from Joe Turpin, Ben Turpin, and Evan Napolitano.
“We came in confident because we won our opener on Saturday,” explained Pentucket coach Dan Leary.
Coach Leary wasn’t fooled, however, by the early three-goal lead. “Newburyport is a very talented team,” he said. “Being down three is nothing to them.”
In the second quarter, the Clippers showed the quality that enabled them to reach the D3 state semifinals last season.
“I was happy with how we played defense after that first quarter,” said Coach Wedge.
The Newburyport defense was tighter and shots on goal became tougher and tougher for Pentucket to create.
Cam Tinkham, Jack Hadden, and Jon Growth produced scores and had the game tied 3-3 at the half.
Ben Turpin notched his second goal just 1 ½ minutes into the second half and Newburyport needed to regroup again….which they did.
The next five goals belonged to the Clippers.
“We started slowly (again) but gradually found our rhythm,” said Coach Wedge. “It wasn’t perfect by any means.”
Ryan McHugh (3) and Owen Kruez (2) were the five-goal finishers for Newburyport.
“As the game went on, we got a little tired and made some mental mistakes in transition that hurt us,” added Coach Leary. “A talented team like Newburyport will make you pay when you do that.”
“We just couldn’t stop the bleeding,” added Coach Leary referencing the Clippers run to an 8-4 lead.
Henry Hartford and Nolan Cole scored for Pentucket in the last thirty seconds of the game when things were a bit disorganized.
“In that second-to-last goal there were eleven players on the field,” said Coach Wedge.
“We have a lot of inexperienced guys,” said Coach Wedge. “We are dressing twenty-nine players and sixteen are either freshmen or sophomores. But we’re a scrappy team and we play good defense most of the time. Our team is really good at picking the ball off the ground and we fight pretty hard for it. What we don’t do enough of is valuing the ball. Too many bad passes and dropped passes.”
“We never quit today,” said Coach Leary. “That’s all I can ask for. Our team is always fired up to play Newburyport.”
There will be a rematch at Pentucket later in the season.
Coach Wedge: “Dan (Leary) does an unbelievable job. I think he’s the most underrated coach around here. They have low numbers but they’re ultra-competitive. They know how to play the game.”
I asked Jack Hadden about his choice of the University of Albany to play lacrosse. “The minute I stepped onto the campus I know it was the place for me. The team and the coaches were so welcoming. At 12:01AM on September 1st, the first day they could recruit me, they reached out to me. That meant a lot. It was an obvious choice for me.”
The weather at Stehlin was pleasant with sunshine and temperatures near sixty. I nearly froze at Pettingell the day before.
Newburyport 0 3 4 1 = 8
Pentucket 3 0 1 2 = 6
(The pictures will enlarge.)