NEWBURYPORT — The No. 2 Swampscott girls lacrosse team went toe-to-toe with No. 3 Newburyport Tuesday evening, but in the end the Big Blue came up just short in a 14-13 overtime loss in the Division 2 North semifinal at James T. Stehlin Field. Swampscott held a two-goal lead with just over a minute to go in the game, but the Clippers responded with three unanswered goals to win the game in sudden death.
“These girls have nothing to hang their heads about, they came out and competed for every last second of this game,” said Swampscott coach Al Eaton. “The way we lost to them here last year (19-3 in the 2018 semifinal), these girls showed a lot by coming back and going toe-to-toe with them this time around. And we almost stole this one.”
Emerson Laundry led the way with six goals, while Harper Clopton had three goals and two assists. Grace DiGrande had three goals, Elizabeth Green had one goal and Reese Robertson had one assist.
The game was back-and-forth from start to finish, with neither team gaining any more than a two-goal advantage. The Big Blue got things started with a goal from Laundry, which was quickly responded to with back-to-back Newburyport goals from Maggie Pons to give the Clippers a 2-1 lead. Swampscott came right back with two goals of its own (one each from Green and Clopton) to go up 3-2, then Newburyport tied it up 3-3 on another goal from Pons. DiGrande scored to give Swampscott the lead back before an eight-minute lull in scoring for both teams.
The lull was broken when Laundry put Swampscott up 5-3 with just under six minutes to play, but then Newburyport responded with back-to-back goals from Pons and Samantha King to tie the score at 5-5. The two teams continued to trade goals — one each from Clopton and Laundry for Swampscott and one each from Pons and Katelyn Hadden for Newburyport — until the halftime buzzer sounded with the score tied at 7-7.
The second half was much of the same, with the two teams trading goals back and forth for the first 15 minutes of the half. With just under 10 minutes left in the game, the score was tied at 11-11.
That’s how it stayed until there were three minutes to go, when Laundry put Swampscott ahead with a free position goal to make it 12-11. DiGrande scored on her own free position goal just a minute later, and all of a sudden the Big Blue had a two-goal lead in the closing stages.
But Newburyport kept fighting.
The Clippers tied the score with back-to-back goals from King in the final 1:11 to force overtime, then King added the final dagger with an overtime goal just one minute into the sudden death period.
With the loss, Swampscott ends the season at 16-3. The Big Blue’s four seniors — DiGrande, Jackie Frisoli, Nikki Rosa and Sara Hamada-Mohamed — will be sorely missed.
“That’s our leading scorer, our goalie and two rock-solid defensive players that we’re losing, so they’ll be missed for sure,” Eaton said. “They’ve all made huge contributions to this program over the past few years, and it’s going to be tough moving on without them. But they gave it their all out there in this game and they left it all on the field.”
The bright side is Swampscott returns a solid nucleus next season, many of which were starters during this spring’s tournament run. Eaton knows that his team will be competitive again in 2020.
“We have a lot to work with next year, as our entire midfield and entire attack minus one player will be coming back,” Eaton said. “There are also some girls who didn’t play (Tuesday) that will be able to contribute, and we have some freshmen coming in who I know will be pushing for roster spots. So things are looking positive for the future.”