MANCHESTER — To anyone who’s taken in a game between Manchester Essex and Hamilton-Wenham — regardless of sport — it’s clear in a hurry that there’s no love lost between the two programs.
Maybe it’s the close proximity. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s two small schools. Whatever the reason may be, though, an emotional rivalry has built up over the years.
The passion, and animosity, that comes along with that type of rivalry shone through in the boys lacrosse meeting between the two teams yesterday at Hyland Field. The teams battled from the opening whistle, and the game’s fiery nature ultimately boiled over into some ugly scenes.
At the end of the day, it was the ugly stuff that helped decide the game as Hamilton-Wenham midfielder Christian Ecker (five goals) rattled off three man-advantage goals in the final 2:11 of the third quarter to put the Hornets away for good, and Hamilton-Wenham cruised to a 10-3 victory.
“Actually, it was what we were looking for for the better part of the game until the guys sort of lost their heads a little,” Hornets coach John McCavanagh said. “We were fighting hard and doing a lot of good things well, but they’re going to learn lessons as the season goes on on how to keep their composure.”
For the majority of the Hornets’ and Generals’ clash, the game was far more even than the lopsided final score would suggest. Manchester Essex kept it close through the first half, riding the strong play of junior goalie Alex Taliaferro to a manageable 4-1 halftime deficit against the traditionally strong Generals (3-1).
And when the game’s intensity started to ramp up in the third quarter, it looked as though the Hornets were feeding off the game’s chippiness. After a midfield skirmish that prompted the officials to send the teams to their respective benches to cool things down, the Hornets responded with two quick goals from Brian McAuliff and Ely Koufman to cut the Generals’ lead to 4-3.