PEABODY — After a string of slow starts, the Peabody boys lacrosse team and coach Leo Shidler made coming out of the gate strong one of their main goals.
That work came to fruition Saturday in a 14-4 rout of Northeastern Conference rival Swampscott at Coley Lee Field.
“It’s huge,” Peabody coach Leo Shidler said. “We’ve had a hard time coming out strong. We’ve come out slow the last four or five games. The last couple practices we’ve focused on trying to come out fast. And Pat Russo obviously helps us a lot with those draws.”
Russo (16 faceoff wins) sparked the momentum for the Tanners with seven straight faceoff wins in the first quarter to help Peabody control possession and get out to a 5-1 lead.
“It was good to see that work,” Shidler said. “It’s always nice to see the things you put in at practice actually work here on the field.”
Colby Therrien led the way for Peabody with three goals and one assist. Jack Houlden scored two goals with three assists and Keenan Madden added two goals and one assist. Trevor Smith and Anthony Bettencourt each scored two goals. Nick Patturelli scored one goal with three assists while Connor McCarron and Andrew Lucas each scored one goal.
Shidler was happy to see the Tanners share the wealth on offense.
“We try to preach being unselfish,” Shidler said. “Sometimes when we get away from our game plan it’s clear that some guys just want to get the ball and get theirs. We’ve been saying it all year, we want to work on moving the ball. We want an assist on every goal that we can. It looks like it’s coming to fruition now.”
Swampscott struggled to control possession on offense, allowing 12 straight goals before scoring its second goal in the third quarter.
“We struggled with clearing the ball,” Swampscott coach Geoff Beckett said. “A lot of balls on the turf and we’re just having trouble finding those balls, scooping it and getting it into the offensive end. Once we get on offense we’re having a tough time just keeping it. I think we had the ball for maybe a minute in that first quarter. That fact that the defense actually held pretty strong for 10 minutes is good.”
Christian Pierro led the Big Blue with three goals while Zachary Pierce scored once.
“We have to improve on getting the ball on offense,” Shidler said. “I think our six-on-six offense is pretty good and our transition offense is good. We just have to get the ball on our sticks. That’s the toughest part right now.”
It was Swampscott who got on the board first, with Kyle Fitzgerald swinging an assist to Pierro to put the Big Blue ahead 1-0.
But Peabody quickly regained control. With Russo controlling the faceoff circle, Patturelli assisted a goal from Smith to get the Tanners started. Madden added a goal less than two minutes later and Smith scored again to put Peabody ahead 3-1.
Therrien added his first goal with just under two minutes left in the first quarter and Madden found the back of the net in the final two seconds of the quarter to stretch the Tanners’ lead to 5-1.
Peabody didn’t let up in the second quarter. McCarron and Therrien each added a goal to push the Peabody lead to 7-1. The Tanners kept it going with goals from Houlden and Bettencourt. Smith added another goal in the final minutes of the second to put the Tanners ahead 10-1 before the half.
The Tanners scored another pair of goals early in the second half. Therrien added an early goal and Pattuelli scored a few minutes later to put Peabody ahead 12-1.
Pierro finally ended Peabody’s run with a late goal in the third quarter but Houlden and Lucas responded with a goal each to stretch the Tanners lead to 14-2.
With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, Peabody emptied its bench and Pierce and Pierro each added a goal to round out the scoring for Swampscott.
The Tanners (7-6) will hope to continue to improve when they host Beverly Wednesday (4) while Swampscott continues a tough stretch with Danvers Thursday (5).
“Obviously we’re light on numbers and I think that’s a lot of it,” Beckett said. “After five or six minutes of not subbing off the field they get tired. It’s hard to get the motivation to sprint back out there again. These guys don’t quit. There’s 12 or 13 of them and they all know this is what we have and we have to make it work.”