MANCHESTER— The Gloucester boys lacrosse team may not have picked up many style points Saturday night against Manchester Essex in the coaches vs. cancer benefit game. But the Fishermen weren't playing for style points, they were playing for a win; and that's what they got in a physical but sloppy 5-4 win over their game Cape Ann counterparts at Hyland Field.
Gloucester moves to 1-4 with the win while Manchester Essex falls to 0-5 with its second straight 5-4 loss.
The game featured more heavy hits then goals but with the officials calling a tight game it led to several man-up opportunities for both teams with each team notching three man-up goals each.
"We will definitely take the win but we aren't where we need to be yet," Gloucester head coach Drew Dominick said. "I thought we played a very good game defensively but offensively we still need work. Still it is nice to get a win under our belts."
Manchester Essex head coach Nate Levie was also happy with his team's play on the defensive end, but disappointed in the offensive effort.
"We spoiled a great game from our defense by playing selfish offensively," Levie said. "We were taking shots from the top of the box, trying to drive four-on-one and we took some undisciplined penalties. I thought we played well on Thursday but we took a step back tonight. We allowed five goals in each of the last two games, that should be good enough to win."
In a second half that was a defensive struggle, Gloucester's Ian Kennedy broke a 4-4 tie with what turned out to be the game winning goal with 1:59 to play in the third quarter. Kennedy took advantage of a rare Hornets defensive mistake picking off an ill advised clear attempt pass and putting it home for a 5-4 Gloucester lead.
The fourth quarter featured more physical play, more scoring opportunities, but no goals. Both goalies, Gloucester's Sean Kennedy and Manchester Essex's Alex Taliaferro made some strong stops to keep things close in the fourth. Kennedy made two strong saves from point blank range in the final frame to preserve Gloucester's win.
Dominick was quick to credit all of his defenseman in the win, particularly senior Coltyn Rivas, who not only played tight defense, but helped Gloucester out in the midfield and on face-offs.
"If he isn't an all league player then I don't know who is," Dominick said of Rivas. "He does everything for us and he showed it tonight. He played really tough defense and won a ton of battles for ground balls.
Our defense as a whole played great, they only had one settled goal which is pretty impressive."
Levie credited the play of defensemen Doug Rodier and Sean Gutierrez.
"Defensively we played great settled," Levie said. "We held our position and won some nice battles for ground balls. Gloucester got most of its goals man-up, we did our job on that end just didn't get it done on the other end."
Manchester Essex broke out to a 1-0 lead early in the first frame on a nice goal from Connor Bergmann in close, Gloucester Winslow Lewis tied it at 1-1 a short time later but the Hornets took a 2-1 lead at the end of the frame on a goal from Eli Kaufmann.
The Fishermen had a strong offensive showing in the second quarter as Andrew Lufkin tied the score at 2-2 early in the frame. After a Jeff White snipe from the top of the box gave the Hornets a 3-2 lead, Gloucester took it right back with back-to-back goals from Jason Lattof and Robert Decker making it 4-3 Gloucester. White, however, tied the score up late in the half on another well placed shot.
Both coaches were pleased with the event, which raised money for the American Cancer Society, and pleased to be apart of an event for a good cause.
"It was a nice event and it was nice to see everybody show the support, even the refs were wearing their pink stick it to cancer shirts, it was nice to see," Levie said. "It wasn't the most well played game but both teams played hard and it came down to the final minutes.