With just over four minutes to play, it looked like the Gloucester boys lacrosse team was going to have its senior night spoiled by rival Manchester Essex.
In a defensive struggle where goals were tough to come by all night, Manchester Essex’s Jake Athanas scored his third goal of the game to give his team a two-goal lead, the biggest lead of the night for either team, with only 4:22 left in regulation.
The Fishermen, however, were determined to end their season on a high note and send their seniors off with a victory, scoring three times in an 80 second span for a 7-6 victory at Newell Stadium.
With the win, Gloucester finishes up its season at 3-15, Manchester Essex falls to 3-13.
Fittingly, it was the team’s seniors that scored the deciding goals in the final minutes. Dakota Girard put home a pass from Ryan Argentino with 3:59 to play to cut the deficit to 6-5. The goal came just 23 seconds after Manchester Essex built a two-goal lead.
The game was tied 42 seconds later on a Marc Smith goal and 37 seconds after that, James Nelson rifled a shot home from about 15 yards away to give Gloucester its first lead of the night, 7-6 with 2:39 left.
From there, Gloucester had to survive being down two-men thanks to a pair of infractions. But the defense, led by senior captain Joe Brancaleone, and junior goalie Toby Campbell, came up big down the stretch to preserve the win.
Kai Carroll opened up the scoring for Manchester Essex just under four minutes in. That score stood until Argentino put home a feed from Girard with 25 seconds left in the quarter to tie the game at 1-1. But the Hornets would leave the first frame with the lead thanks to a Jack McFadden tally with only 15 seconds left in the frame to make it 2-1.
That 2-1 score would hold up until halftime.
Nelson tied the score at 2-2 with a goal in the opening 30 seconds of the third quarter, but Athanas scored two times in a minute to open up a 4-2 Manchester Essex lead. Argentino put home a pass from Smith and Robby Schuster found the back of the net later in the frame to send the team’s into the fourth quarter tied at four.
Carroll and Athanas got the first two goals of the fourth, but Gloucester got the final three for the win.