Tanners fend off Crusaders in Danish Cup

Peabody's Stephen Ell (right) tries to get past Fenwick's long Tyler Layton in the first half of the annual Danish Cup game. (Photo by Bob Carbone )

PEABODY — There’s no denying that when it comes to local rivalries, the Bob Danish Cup brings the best out of the Bishop Fenwick and Peabody boys lacrosse teams.

Friday’s game between the Crusaders and Tanners was another chapter of the rivalry that exemplified its intensity. In a back-and-forth affair from start to finish, Stephen Ell’s four-goal performance led Peabody to a 6-5 win at Coley Lee Field.

“It’s the Danish Cup and we were playing Fenwick so we had a lot going for us,” Peabody coach Greg Welch said. “The juices were flying. It was a good win. I’m happy for the kids.”

With the win, Peabody (7-9) remains alive in the hunt for a state tournament bid. The Tanners play Lowell and Marblehead next week, needing wins in both games to clinch a spot.

“This was a tournament game because if we lose, we’re done,” Welch said. “Monday (vs. Lowell) is another tournament game. The kids are playing with urgency and that’s always nice.”

Peabody’s Jack Houlden scored a goal and dished one assist and Matt Rapoza tallied one goal. James Nicholson, Nick Patturelli and Connor McCarron each dished one assist. Pat Russo won nine of 13 faceoffs and goalie Austin Leggett made 14 saves.

Brian Harrington led Fenwick with three goals. Diego Alvarez-Segee scored two goals and Stefano Fabiano logged one assist.

“This is the one that everybody looks toward and wants to win,” Fenwick coach Steve Driscoll said. “We put 3.5 miles west on our schedule for a reason. It means a lot to our guys, it means a lot to me, it means a lot to our coaching staff. It’s always a battle.”

Game MVP awards were earned by Harrington and Ell.

Peabody looked like the more active team out of the gate in the first quarter. The Tanners kept Fenwick goalie Garrett Ruszkowski (13 saves) on his toes from the opening whistle, sending a bundle of shots his way. Peabody’s early energy paid off with a pair of goals, one each from Ell and Houlden. That gave the Tanners a 2-0 lead just five minutes into the game.

Fenwick found its footing on the defensive end and kept its deficit at 2-0 at the end of the first quarter.

A quick pair of tallies from Harrington, 40 seconds apart, knotted the score at 2-2 in the early going of the second quarter. Peabody regained the lead with a score from Rapoza with 3:56 left in the half. Ell found the back of the net two minutes later and the Tanners held a 4-2 edge at recess.

“It was huge for us to weather that storm in the first quarter,” Driscoll said. “I think we were way too jittery, way too psyched up. We settled down in the second quarter, got into our rhythm a little bit and started playing Fenwick lacrosse.”  

The Crusaders knotted the score, again, in the third quarter. Alvarez-Segee fired in a pair of goals with 5:56 and 3:06 on the clock to even the score at 4-4. Ell regained the lead for the Tanners in the waning seconds of the quarter. Peabody held a slim 5-4 lead heading into the fourth.

A quiet start to the fourth quarter kept it a one-goal game for another seven minutes. That changed when Ell scored an insurance goal for Peabody, bumping its lead to 6-4.

“Stephen’s just unbelievable,” Welch said. “Everyone keys in on him and he’s still putting up great numbers. That’s huge. He’s a second coach out there. He knows when to slow it down, he calls the matchups and it’s like having another coach out there. I thought he played a great game.”

Showing no quit, Harrington added another tally with 1:12 to play but Fenwick’s rally fell a goal short. Peabody held on for the 6-5 win.

“This is always a tight game,” Driscoll said. “I respect Greg, he knows what he’s doing. Hopefully this team can make the tournament too. It’s great to have two teams in Peabody battling left and right every single year.”

Fenwick (10-5) visits Stoneham Monday (4).

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