BERLIN- Area lacrosse fans will be treated to a special double feature this afternoon when the Worcester Prep men’s varsity team takes on cross-town rival Stephen Decatur at home and the Mallards’ girls’ varsity team takes on Decatur over at Seahawk Stadium.
More than a few fans of both schools will take in the first half of the double header at Worcester Prep where the men’s varsity teams face off at 3:45 p.m., then scurry over to Decatur for the women’s varsity game which begins at 5 p.m. It’s always special when the Mallards and the Seahawks face off in lacrosse and this year’s highly anticipated match-ups will be no different. It isn’t often that the two games are played on the same day, but it happens this afternoon at two different venues with overlapping times.
Players from both schools have grown up playing with and against each other in various youth leagues, winter indoor leagues and tournament travel teams and both are very familiar with each other. If it’s true that familiarity breeds contempt, the expression only applies between the lines on the lacrosse field for Worcester and Decatur. From whistle to whistle, both teams will play a knock-down, drag-out lacrosse game, but after the game, players on both teams will share handshakes and hugs and tell war stories.
With the Worcester teams playing in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference and the Decatur teams playing in the Bayside Conference, there is little at stake in terms of the standings or rankings. What is at stake, however, are bragging rights for the next year.
Worcester Prep’s programs have been around much longer and thus have a deeper tradition, but Decatur has leveled the playing field and even surpassed Worcester in recent years in some respects. The annual neighborhood rivalry has produced some memorable contests for both the boys and the girls over the years.
In 2000, for example, the Worcester and Decatur boys met in the finals of an Easter Tournament hosted by the Seahawks and the game was one of the more memorable in the series. Decatur jumped out to an early 5-1 lead and led 6-4 at the half. The Mallards scored early in the third quarter before a brief thunderstorm halted play for about half an hour. When play resumed, the Mallards went on a seven-goal tear to close out the 12-6 win.
In 2001, the Worcester Prep girls routed Decatur 15-6 on their way to a perfect season. The Decatur girls program was just three years old at the time, and although the Seahawks took their lumps, it began to become apparent they could hang with their more established cross-town rivals.
In 2002, the Decatur boys held off Worcester Prep, 8-6, for their first-ever win against the Mallards. The Seahawks led 5-1 at the half, but Worcester cut the lead to 8-6 with just over two minutes remaining. The Mallards applied constant pressure on the Seahawk goal in the waning minutes, but Decatur held on for the win, touching off a wild celebration on the field.
The 2005 match-up between the Worcester and Decatur boys was just as memorable for the deplorable conditions as the final result. The game was played in heavy rains and high winds with one end of the field barely visible from the other. Worcester led 5-0 after the first quarter, but Decatur roared back to cut the lead to 6-5 at the half. The Mallards roared out with four straight goals in the third quarter to come away with the 10-5 win.
In 2006, the Decatur girls thrashed visiting Worcester, 16-2, for their first ever win over their friendly rivals. The special Seahawk women’s team went on to win the school’s first state regional title and advanced to the state title game. The Decatur girls won again last year, 16-2, to continue the momentum swing.
Last year’s highly anticipated match-up between the Worcester and Decatur boys included a little bit of everything including rumbling thunder, a 30-minute lightning delay, great shots, big hits and lots of penalties, but in the end, the Mallards edged the Seahawks, 8-7, in front of a big bi-partisan crowd at Decatur. Decatur led 4-3 at the half, but Worcester tied it at 4-4 early in the third quarter before the skies opened up and play was halted. When play resumed, the two teams traded goals on big play after big play before the Mallards escaped with the 8-7 win.