Danvers, Mass. -- Ben Alpern eyed the signal from ball-handler Jack Sharrio as he worked his way the opposite direction behind the goalpost. Catching a pass yards in front of Beverly keeper Kevin Lally, the St. John's Prep midfielder faked left then quickly flicked the ball into the right side of the net.
As the Eagles sideline erupted, the senior embraced his teammates' to celebrate their first lead of the game -- a 12-11 advantage with 1:56 remaining. Playing catchup for 41:15 consecutive minutes, the Beverly native played a crucial role for the Prep boys' lacrosse team (4-1) by scoring both the equalizer and winner in what was a 13-11 comeback against their 32-year-old rival and former Northeastern Conference opponent, Beverly (5-1).
“We have been working a lot with picks on the crease,” said Alpern. “They lost me on the crease and I put it in. We knew we had another half to play once we were down by six (and) we kept focusing on getting one goal.”
The Eagles went on a nine to one run over the final 22 minutes and netted the last six goals to comeback from what was an early second-half six-goal deficit.
SJP junior Andrew O'Connell used his back to lose his man then bounced a shot past a sliding defender to start the six-tally streak with 2:49 left in the third quarter. Alpern equalized at 11-11 nine minutes later off an assist from junior Andrew Gallahue.
Gallahue lead all-scorers with four goals and an assist, while teammate O'Connell and Alpern netted three goals.
“It came down to momentum”, said SJP coach John Roy. “We did a little better on offense possessing the ball and moving (it). We needed to be better shooters.”
DIFFERENT TEAMS WITH DIFFERENT HALVES
Beverly dominated the first half by scoring the first three goals, including a 10-yard rocket from the side of the net by senior Dom Abate for the opening tally at 10:53 in the first quarter. The Panthers scored five straight during the second quarter starting with an isolated effort for a goal by Brendan Flaherty at 6:12 in the second quarter.
The senior assisted a score then ripped a 15-yard rocket from just inside the attack area for the 9-3 advantage with 1:02 left in the first half.
“We do a lot of transition in practice and everyday getting the ball into unsettled situations,” said Beverly coach John Pynchon. “We have a lot of dynamic midfielders and they did a good job beating their men. They know when to make the next pass.”
Flaherty converted a defensive turnover into a breakaway tally for the Panthers' second six-point margin and a 10-4 lead after 1:33 in the second half.
The senior scored three goals and assisted one, while teammate sophomore Nick Albano netted two goals and assisted one. Panthers keeper Kevin Lally was a force throughout with 17 saves.
“Some of our seniors who played football this is the first time they have lost this year,” said Pynchon. “[Lally] is very mature about his preparation and has great eyes. You take him out of the game when kids are throwing at him from three yards away.”