(Newburyport) He was going down as he let the shot go and it went in.
Not only did it go in, but Jack Russo’s goal was the game winner for Swampscott.
The Big Blue stunned Newburyport, 6-5, on Thursday afternoon.
It was the Division Three opener for both squads.
Swampscott moves on to face Pentucket on Saturday. The Panthers had a 13-4 win over Big Blue on April 2nd.
The ways things turned out didn’t surprise either coach.
“We’re battled tested with Danvers, Beverly, Marblehead, and Masco so we knew we were capable of doing it,” said Swampscott coach Geoff Beckett afterwards.
“In the tournament at the end of the year, anyone can beat anybody,” said Newburyport coach Josh Wedge post-game.
The result was surely a surprise to those doing the MIAA power rankings in Division Three since (12-7) Newburyport was the #8 seed and (10-8) Swampscott was the #25 seed.
Newburyport took a one-goal lead three straight times and Swampscott followed by doing the same thing.
The team behind always caught up until Jack Russo gave Big Blue a 6-5 lead with 5:15 left in the final quarter. The Clippers weren’t able to get the equalizer in the several opportunities they had.
“Our defense was amazing,” said Swampscott goalie Aidan Breault. “We gave up only one goal in the second half.”
Aidan made some key saves but added, “I couldn’t have done it without the defense in front of me.”
The Clippers ability to score goals took a hit in the first quarter when senior Jonny Groth was injured and never returned.
“When Jonny, our best middie went down that was tough,” said Coach Wedge. “He was our senior leader all year on offense.”
Big Blue took the lead for good on Jack Russo’s goal in the fourth quarter.
“I was trying to push top-side,” recalled Jack regarding his game winner. “I saw the goalie slide, so I gave a nice little swim move and honestly prayed and it went in. I was falling and I tried to use my momentum to put it in the net.”
“Swampscott is a very athletic team,” said Coach Wedge, “and I knew that they would give us problems if we didn’t execute.”
“To win we had to put forty-eight minutes together,” said Coach Beckett. “We probably played about forty-five minutes but luckily it was enough.”
Senior Ryan McHugh opened the scoring for Newburyport but Cole Hamernick answered for Swampscott in the first quarter.
Coach Wedge called a timeout with fifty-six seconds left in the first quarter and his team came out and scored (Ryan Philbin) ten seconds later.
The back-and-forth continued in the second quarter. Big Blue’s Jason Codispoti tied the game at 2-2 before Owen Kurez put the Clippers ahead again.
Jack Russo went over the top of a defender to tie the game at 3-3 with seven minutes left until halftime.
Harrison Kinne poured in from the left and Big Blue had its first lead of the game, 4-3, with 5:52 left in the 2nd quarter.
Newburyport’s Jack Hadden made a long run to tie things (4-4) at the half.
I expected the higher seed to string goals together and gain some separation in the second half.
It didn’t happen.
“Our stick skills were a little sloppy,” said Coach Wedge. “We had opportunities that we just dropped.”
Swampscott wasn’t playing very well either.
“We let them hang around in the third quarter with a lot of turnovers,” said Coach Beckett.
Goals by Cole Hamernick (Swampscott) and Ryan McHugh (Newburyport) kept things even when the third quarter ended.
Only one goal was scored during the twelve-minute final quarter, and it was by Jack Russo.
“Their goalie (Ryan Portalla) was playing good all day,” said Jack, “so I finally got one by him. Newburyport is a well-coached, great team. #1 (Jack Hadden) is a heckuva player.”
Jack Russo saw plenty of Jack Hadden as the two of them tangled numerous times in Swampscott’s offensive end.
Christian Urbano and Harrison Kinne each had two assists for Swampscott.
Aidan Breault not only had a big game in net, but he also wasn’t hesitant to carry the ball into the other end.
“I got bored down there sometimes,” he laughed, “so I’ve got to run it up and make a play and try to set up the offense.”
Plenty of good weather this afternoon.
Newburyport 2 2 1 0 = 5
Swampscott 1 3 1 1 = 6