NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- In one of this year's top boys' lacrosse leagues, Concord-Carlisle and Lincoln-Sudbury are once more playing the role of the Dual County Leagues' perennial powerhouses.
An early season matchup between the defending conference champs may have started a potential let down, but a late push from the No. 2 Warriors in the Coaches Challenge Cup quarterfinals yesterday afternoon showed why both squads remain top in the state.
With C-C jumping ahead by five goals early, L-S (4-2) battled back but never led as they fell by a slim 8-7 margin at Joe Walsh Stadium in North Andover.
“They are the class of the league and we measure ourselves against them,” C-C head coach Tom Dalicandro said. “We said 'value the ball, posses the ball, and take good shots'. I think we did a much better job today than we have done this year of valuing possession.”
The No. 8 Patriots (4-0) burst out of the gate with the first three goals and a 6-1 lead to open.
Ducking defenders from the top corners of their offense, leading scorer Kevin Delehey netted all three of his goals off isolation plays in the first quarter. Slipping under a pair of Warriors, the C-C senior found himself five-yard in front of the netminder in the final seconds of the initial quarter to send the Patriots into the break up 5-1 with his final tally.
A wide-open open breakaway by long-pole Henry Bumpus left the senior walking into one-on-one with the keeper as he put the DCL (Small) defending champs up 6-1 at 11:04 in the second.
“We were able to generate some good offense out of our dodges,” Delehey said. “I run through those dodges hundreds if not thousands of times. At this point so it is really just reaction.”
After two turnaround tallies put the Warriors down 6-3 at half, L-S junior Jordan Dow nailed a pair of open-net man-up opportunities to help cut the deficit early in the third. L-S junior Dan Delaney rolled around his defender and hit a rip ten yards out to bring the score to 7-6 with 4:42 left in the quarter.
Delaney and Dow led the Warriors with two goals, while C-C senior Mike O'Brien also netted a pair.
“We called an invert and saw some matchups we really liked,” L-S head coach Brian Vona said. “We eventually just tightened up defensively. They just out everything'd us.”
Trading goals between the final quarters, L-S entered the last ten minutes down 8-7, but was unable to finish a pair of man-up chances along the post. A steal by C-C senior keeper Doug Gouchoe from behind the net sealed the victory in the final seconds.
HINGHAM ROLLS AGAIN
In other Coaches Cup quarterfinals action, No. 3 Hingham (5-0) never trailed as it was lead to a 9-5 victory over No. 14 Dover-Sherborn (7-1) with six goals from senior Kevin Blair.
“I was really finding the seams on offense,” Blair said. “We are doing a lot of switches off ball, we are picking for each other and it really opens up the middle. We like to isolate and draw the men (out).”
The Raiders evened two score margin in the first, but gradually faded away as the Harbormen found open shots around the crease.
Three straight scores from Blair in the second helped Hingham run away with a 6-3 lead at 3:11. Scoring all three off motion aside the net, the senior caught a lob pass from fellow upperclassmen Reed McLeod (two goals) late in the quarter and side stepped around both the post and the goalie for his fourth tally on the afternoon.
“We have six guys on the field who are able to play well together,” Hingham head coach John Todd said. “We made them practice at a high tempo. [Blair] sees the field very well and is very fast.”
The Raiders managed to work the ball up top for a score from junior Matt Huemme to grab a 6-4 deficit in the final seconds of the half, but were out shot three goals to one in the final two quarters.
Hingham found Blair behind D-S's defense on a counter late in the third then buried a deep rip from senior Kevin Morris to put D-S away with a 8-4 lead at 7:24 in the fourth quarter.
“They pressured the ball real well and we did not have the ball a lot in the second half,” D-S head coach Brian McLaughlin said. “It is hard to score when you can not get the ball back.”
Originally trailing 3-1 in the first, senior Ben Newbert evened the score for the final time on the afternoon by finishing a ground-ball pickup next to the crease then side-arming a 10-yarder to put the score at 3-3 to end the first. Newbert lead the Raiders with two tallies.
In the first game of the day, No. 6 Wellesley rolled past North Andover, 14-1.
Midfielder Oliver Saffery led the Raiders with four goals, in addition to a team-high seven ground balls. Ryan Cassidy collected two goals to go along with five ground balls.
Connor Darcey made eight saves in the cage to make it stand up.
"North Andover's a good team, and I'm just glad we came ready to play," Raiders head coach Rocky Batty said. "It's always nice to get a win in the Coaches' Challenge Cup, and we're already excited to play again at 2 p.m. on Thursday at Dover-Sherborn."
GOLDEN WARRIORS GIVE SACHEMS A RUN
In perhaps the day's most riveting game, No. 11 Winchester held off No. 20 Andover in a 10-9 decision.