BILLERICA — Continuing what has been an impressive stretch of play, the Shawsheen Tech Girls Lacrosse team picked up a thrilling 7-6 win over CAC rival Essex Tech on Monday afternoon at the Charles H. Lyons Athletic Complex.
The win not only improved the Rams record on the season to 7-4 overall, but more importantly it improved their record to 7-1 within the CAC, giving them a chance to earn their fourth consecutive CAC title.
If they do go on to earn the CAC crown, they will look back fondly on Monday night’s game where they outlasted a talented Essex team on their way to the huge league victory.
The Rams were led to victory by a pair of goals each from seniors Megan Brown and Kara Ippolito, while fellow seniors Brooke Johnson and Maddie Rumley, along with junior Jade Sweeney, had one goal each.
Senior goalie Julia Ryan of Wilmington picked up the win in net, making her 300th career save along the way.
The Rams trailed 2-1 at the half as they struggled to get their offense going, but they turned things around in the second half, eventually tying the game at 5-5 with about ten minutes left before goals by Sweeney and Brown made the score 7-5 with five minutes left.
Essex was able to pull within 7-6, but would get no closer, due at least in part to some heads up play from Ryan. With less than a minute remaining, Ryan called for the ball, received a pass from her fellow defender, and managed to kill the clock.
“We played the remaining five minutes with strong, quality, lacrosse,” Shawsheen coach Alex O’Reilly said. “And Julia did a great job of killing the clock. She stalled behind the net and kind of took everyone on the field by surprise. In our team’s moment of panic, she caught everyone off guard and really slowed things down.
She’s seen games like this where it really comes down to maintain possession in the remaining few minutes, but it’s always been down on our offensive end. It was a fantastic in-game decision and very admirable for the younger girls to see a seasoned vet rise from the chaos and take the reins of the game.”
The win was especially sweet for the Rams, who had suffered a tough 13-12 heartbreaker to Lowell Catholic just last week. O’Reilly and the Rams were happy to be on the opposite end of a close one this time around.
“Games like that come down to winning every draw, every ground ball, every turnover, and every drive to net,” O’Reilly said. “We lacked in fulfilling the fundamental needs of a successful game against Lowell Catholic and because of that, we couldn’t finish. We faced the same difficulty today with Essex Tech but we were able to unwind at the end with those five remaining minutes on the clock, ground ourselves, and change the outcome. The girls focused on the small stuff for five minutes and maintained the lead today over Essex finishing a close game.”
While Ryan made a huge play for the Rams late in the game to secure the victory, she was also outstanding throughout the game, reaching the 300 save plateau and beyond. She ended the game with 322 career saves in just three seasons.
“Julia is having an unbelievable season. Every game it’s either an opposing coach, referee, or other game staff commenting on her play and admiring her skill. She is so humble on the field and maintains fantastic sportsmanship and composure no matter what situation our team is in,” O’Reilly said. “To see her reach such an incredible accomplishment, 300 saves in just three seasons is very special. I can’t think of a more deserving and hard-working individual to be honored with an accomplishment of that nature.”
Ryan and the rest of the Rams will be looking for a huge accomplishment this week as they aim for their fourth straight CAC title. With only one league loss the Rams are heading into an important week of play when they travel to Mystic Valley on Wednesday afternoon. The Rams had lost to Mystic 10-9 in their season opener, handing them their only league loss of the season.
Right now the Rams stand tied with Mystic with one league loss apiece, while Essex has two league losses, so Wednesday’s game will go a long way towards determining the CAC championship. Results of the game were not available as of the Town Crier’s press time.