LYNNFIELD — The No. 7 Lynnfield boys lacrosse team took on No. 10 Manchester Essex in the Division 4 Sweet 16 Wednesday evening, emerging victorious with a 10-6 win.
After the Pioneers’ round of 32 win Monday, head coach Pat Lamusta said he and his team wanted “another crack” at Manchester Essex to right a wrong. That’s because Lynnfield was bested by its Cape Ann League rival 10-9 in the regular season.
Well, this win meant a little more for Lynnfield.
“We felt like we played so poorly the first time around that we would have taken a second chance the moment we got to the parking lot,” Lamusta said. “It was nice coming into this game healthy – and [with] another seven games of experience for our younger guys. We were a little bit more polished compared to when we last played them.”
It’s safe to say: both teams came to play. A physical, low-scoring start had the Pioneers ahead 2-1 after the first quarter, but tied 5-5 at the break.
“What helped us today was reminding ourselves in the second quarter to play physically, and then, from playing physically with ground balls and great defense, the offense will come,” Lamusta said.
The Pioneers never backed down and started to find their offensive groove in the second half.
First, it was a falling Kelan Cardinal finding an open Owen Considine to open the scoring. Then, defenseman Aidan Norton won a ground ball and ran the length of the field before finding his brother, Will Norton (5 goals), who fired a shot past the Hornets’ keeper (7-5).
With the game swaying between physical and free-flowing, Lamusta said he and his coaching staff aren’t afraid to change things up midgame.
“We take a lot from our players and what they see on the field,” Lamusta said. “We’re willing to make adjustments based on what they say. If we have to morph what we do, then we’ll do it.”
That physical play continued throughout the game with both teams being flagged for fouls.
“You never want the physicality to go overboard and it’s a fine line,” Lamusta said. “We want to play physically, but play clean. You can’t afford to be a man down against great teams.”
Against his point, the Pioneers committed two fouls to begin the fourth, resulting in a man-down situation. The Hornets capitalized, scoring with 8:19 remaining to cut the Pioneers’ lead to 7-6.
Just when the Hornets found their momentum, Lynnfield’s Will Norton snatched it right back. A pass from Jack Calichman (5 assists) allowed Norton to fire a shot past the goalie and restore Lynnfield’s two-goal lead.
“Will Norton’s goal was a momentum-stopper. We were dragging a little bit and he came up big,” Lamusta said. “Will is very dangerous with the ball. I love watching him play. You can tell he’s a multi-sport athlete. He has the hockey skill that blends nicely with lacrosse. Plus, he’s a great kid.”
One minute later, Calichman found Norton again. This time, however, Norton finished in style with a behind-the-back shot to put a dagger into Manchester Essex’s heart – and season.
Their regular season matchup came down to the final shot – this time, Lynnfield made sure it didn’t. A lot of that had to do with Bryce Kay’s 14 faceoff wins.
“Bryce was huge on the faceoffs tonight,” Lamusta said. “The second-effort part of the effort was also key. Not only winning the initial part, but securing possession. Getting the ground ball, getting the touch, and allowing the offense to set up. The second effort was huge – he did a great job.”
After the game, Lamusta praised the Hornets for their continuous improvement.
“Manchester Essex is a great team. They had a great season,” Lamusta said. “Hats off to coach
Jon Siderewicz because they seem to get better every year. He’s doing a great job.”
Lynnfield will travel to No. 3 Sandwich with details to be announced.