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Clopton leads Big Blue girls lacrosse past Peabody in NEC clash

Swampscott's Harper Clopton scored two goals in Friday's win. (Item File Photo)

SWAMPSCOTT — Harper Clopton came up big when it was needed the most for the Swampscott girls lacrosse team, scoring with 9.4 seconds remaining to beat Peabody, 14-13, in a thrilling Northeastern Conference battle at Blocksidge Field Thursday. The Big Blue trailed by three goals with less than five minutes to go before going on a 4-0 run to close out the win.

“Peabody’s always an amazing game and a tough test for us,” said Swampscott coach Al Eaton. “They brought a really good game plan and had us off balance for a while, and we really had to dig deep to pull this one out. A game like this makes you battle tested, and hopefully down the road if we end up in the tournament then we’ll look back on a win like this to see how to respond to adversity.”

Clopton had a huge day for the Big Blue, notching six goals and two assists to pace the offense.

“Last year as a freshman, you could see she had the talent but she didn’t know how to use it yet,” Eaton said of Clopton. “But this year as a sophomore, she’s a totally different, more mature player. The offense basically runs through her now, and she’s up to the task.”

Grace DiGrande, Reese Robertson and Elizabeth Green each scored two goals, while Emerson Laundry had one goal and two assists. Sydney Bray scored one goal.

For Peabody, Colleen Crotty led the way with nine goals. Hailie Baker added one goal and one assist, while Amber Kiricoples, Maddy Lomasney and Hailee Lomasney each had one goal. Olivia Kiricoples had two assists.

“I think where we lost this game was turnovers,” said Peabody coach Dennis Desroches. “We were just throwing the ball around too much out there, and that allowed Swampscott to come back. Give credit to them, they came out with a sense of urgency at the end and got the goals they needed, but we need to be better out there.”

The Tanners struck the first blow, going up 2-0 within the first five minutes of play behind a pair of goals from Crotty. DiGrande responded to put Swampscott on the board less than two minutes later to make it 2-1, but Peabody quickly got the goal back on a score from Baker. The score went back and forth from there until Swampscott was able to score two goals in a 30-second span (one from Robertson and one from Green) to tie the score at 5-5.

Just 42 seconds later, Laundry found the back of the net to give the Big Blue their first lead of the game at 6-5. Crotty tied it up for Peabody with 44 seconds to go, but then Clopton — perhaps foreshadowing her heroics later in the game — scored with just nine seconds left in the half to take give Swampscott a 7-6 lead going into the break.

Peabody came out on fire to start the second half, getting three straight goals from Crotty to retake the lead, 9-7. DiGrande scored to stop the run, but Crotty responded with two more goals to make it 11-8. Hailee Lomasney scored to make it 12-8 Peabody, then Clopton scored two straight for the Big Blue to bring it back to 12-10. But after Crotty scored with less than eight minutes left to make it 13-10, it looked like the Tanners may have held onto the momentum.

But Swampscott kept fighting, and the Big Blue went on a 4-0 run in the final five minutes of play. It started with a goal from Bray, then Robertson scored 30 seconds later to make it 13-12. Clopton tied the game with just over three minutes to play, setting up a wild ending.

After taking possession with under 30 seconds to play, the Big Blue cycled the ball around the zone before it found Clopton. She broke for the net and sent a shot that hit both the Peabody goalie and the post before bouncing softly into the back of the net for the game-winning goal. After Swampscott won the ensuing faceoff, the Big Blue ran out the clock for the win.

Now that the first loss of the season is out of the way, Peabody (5-1) will try to rebound against Danvers on Monday (4).

Swampscott (3-0) hosts Medford Monday (4).

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