By Greg Phipps
Despite falling short in its first two games, the Peabody boys’ lacrosse team has made strides, according to new head coach Greg Welch. The Tanners lost their season opener at North Reading by an 18-6 count and followed that up with a 14-4 home loss to Masconomet last Saturday. Both opponents are among the better programs in the area.
After Saturday’s game, Welch saw noticeable progress from the opener. “The offense looked much better, better than we were Thursday. Finishing when we get the ball inside is what we need to work on. We had our chances, especially early in the second quarter,” he said. “If we put a full game together, like we played in the first minutes of the second quarter today, we’ll be in much better shape. We’re a young team. We’ll get better.”
Nearly half of this year’s roster consists of sophomores and freshmen. And as might be expected early in the season, Peabody has made its share of errors on the field. “A lot of our mistakes have been self-inflicted. We need to have better field awareness when clearing the ball. The good thing is that we practice that and can eliminate it,” Welch explained.
On Saturday a goal by Stephen Ell, one of three in the contest for the senior, brought Peabody within 4-1 at the close of the first quarter. The Tanners opened the second by dominating ball possession over the first several minutes. They had good scoring bids but couldn’t dent the net. Eventually, Masco would tally three more times and enter the half up 7-1.
The visitors blew it open in the third quarter, scoring five times in the first five minutes to effectively put the game away. Ell scored twice more in the fourth for the hosts and Ryan Fera added the other Peabody goal.
“We came out flat after the half. That really hurt us,” said Welch. “I was happier with the fourth-quarter effort. It’s a game of runs and we just have to start taking advantage of our chances and going on runs of our own.”
In the season-opening loss at North Reading, Ell scored twice while Connor McCarron, Nick Patturelli, Jack Houlden and Trevor Smith each netted goals.
Welch played his high school lacrosse at Peabody, amassing 225 career points (a school record at one point), and went on to play at Springfield College. The Tanners have not qualified for the postseason tournament since 2015.