The Manchester Essex girls lacrosse team was happy to learn that it drew Newburyport as its opponent in the first round of the Division 2 North state tournament.
No. 10 Manchester Essex (10-6) has seen No. 7 Newburyport (10-5) before in the regular season, with the Clippers coming away with a 12-9 win. The loss to Newburyport on May 10, however, is actually the reason why the Hornets are champing at the bit to play their Cape Ann League rivals one more time. The two teams will meet again Tuesday in Newburyport (4:00 p.m.) with a berth in the Division 2 North Quarter Finals on the line. The winner will meet the winner of No. 2 Ipswich and No. 15 Tewksbury.
"We are really thrilled to have another chance to play (Newburyport)," Hornets head coach Sarah Holch said. "Last time it was just one of those days when the ball wasn't bouncing our way. The girls have been really dedicated at practice and they are gung ho about Tuesday's game."
In the May 10 meeting, Manchester Essex was missing Sophomore attack Brittany Smith, one of the team's top offensive weapons, because she had her wisdom teeth pulled. Junior goalie Maddy Bistrong also missed the game and most of the season with an illness but both will be back for Tuesday's showdown meaning the Hornets will be at full strength for the first time since opening day.
The key for Manchester Essex Tuesday will be stopping Newburyport's high powered and speedy offense. In the Clippers 12-9 win they carved up the Hornets defense with their speed and a well executed fast break offense. They also kept the Hornets offense, which works best when they are settled and passing the ball through the midfield.
"(Newburyport) has improved so much in the last few years, this year they have had some players really step up," Holch said. "They have a really strong fast break going. We didn't slow it down last time and we will need to slow it down this time. Our game plan is just to play our game which we didn't do last time and we lost. We need crisp passing and a well executed offense."
When the two teams meet on Tuesday Manchester Essex will have had an 11 day layoff. Still the Hornets have been practicing hard and Holch says they will be more than ready to play come game time.
"This has been a great season and the girls have had the best attitude," Holch said. "They have been practicing really hard this week because they want to finish off the season with a nice tournament run."