By Conor Walsh
---- — GLOUCESTER — For a Gloucester girls lacrosse team that’s grown accustomed to a certain run-and-gun style of play, the first half of yesterday’s game against Cambridge Rindge & Latin came as a bit of a shock.
The Falcons arrived at Magnolia Woods intending to slow the game down and control possession, and for half of the game, it worked. Cambridge held Gloucester to just one first-half goal and entered halftime knotted at one.
From there, though, the Fishermen made the necessary adjustments and took control of the game’s pace. Melodie Orrell led the way with five second-half goals and Gloucester held off a late Cambridge push to get back to .500 on the year with a 9-8 win.
“We definitely had a bit of a slow start in the first half,” coach Amanda Levie said. “To have a girls lacrosse game at 1-1 at halftime is very low-scoring. We weren’t moving the ball on offense and weren’t playing our game. In the second half, I thought we were finally able to get things rolling on the offensive transition.”
While the Fishermen found a way to bring the game back to their style of play in the second half, yesterday’s win was far from easy. Each time Gloucester looked to be on the verge of putting the Falcons away, Cambridge found the counter-punch.
Two moments in the second half stand out. Midway through the stanza, consecutive goals by Orrell and Angela Marino gave the Fishermen what looked like a commanding three-goal lead at 7-4.
Cambridge responded with two quick goals of its own, however, as midfielders Kristin O’Loughlin (five goals) and Jane Irving pumped in two quick goals to cut the lead back down to one.
After that stretch, however, Gloucester once again appeared to put itself in the driver’s seat. The Fishermen gained control of the ensuing draw and Levie used a timeout, where she emphasized the possession’s importance and told her team “if you have it, go, but don’t do anything risky.”
Where such advice would have caused many players to hesitate, Orrell proved herself as a top-tier scorer. The senior co-captain gained possession and didn’t pause, darting through the Cambridge defense and depositing a goal to extend the lead to 8-6.
Another draw control gave Gloucester the ball again, and again Orrell delivered to give the Fishermen a 9-6 lead in the game’s final minutes.
“She was obviously confident in herself going there, which was awesome to see her thinking on her own and thinking creatively like that,” Levie said. “Taking it to the net twice and scoring twice was huge, and they were both beautiful takes.”
Things got hairy down the stretch for the Fishermen after taking that commanding lead as O’Loughlin won two straight draws and took it to the cage herself to cut the lead to 9-8.
Gloucester buttoned it up defensively from there to preserve the lead, forcing a turnover on the ensuing possession after Cambridge won the draw and running out the clock to secure the 9-8 win and move to 5-5 on the season.
“It did get a little bit closer than I would have liked it to be in the second half there,” Levie said, “but it really shows a lot that they were able to stand up and hold their own and capitalize.”
Tess Destino added two goals, an assist and some dominant possession play for the Fishermen while Caylee DaSilva (goal, assist) and Marino (goal, assist) contributed on the offensive end. Junior goalie Yazmeen Shahain came up with some big stops in net, especially in the first half, to help the Fishermen grab the win.
It was a big win in a resurgent season for the Fishermen, who get back to .500 as they enter the final four games of their regular season. They’ll round out their season with three non-league games (Hamilton-Wenham, Swampscott, Lynnfield) before a season finale against NEC Small leader Salem.