Bishop Guertin High's wealth of talent, particularly on defense, is best illustrated by this fact related to the 2012 NHIAA Division I final:
Minus one of their best close defenders the Nashua powerhouse in boys' lacrosse still clinched a championship three-peat.
Kyle Karaska, a University of Massachusetts recruit, broke his hand in the state semifinals. But given the depth at the position, BG still broke the spirits of Hanover High's Marauders with a 10-5 title-clinching win June 6.
The final score doesn't do BG justice, either. This contest, played at Bedford High, was never in question.
“I thought we outplayed them better than 4-0. But that's been the story of our season,” said BG coach Chris Cameron, referencing the halftime score and his club's ability to dominate play despite what the scoreboard suggested. “We were just so good defensively.”
UMass commit Bob Fahey, the coaches' association pick as defensive player of the year, spearheaded yet another dominant defensive performance. The state's No. 1-ranked club finished 14-1 in-state, and 18-3 overall.
The out-of-state setbacks were by a combined two goals. Guertin lost to La Salle Academy (R.I.), 7-6, and nationally ranked Duxbury (Mass.) High, 6-5.
The Cards also avenged their only in-state loss. After thumping Hanover, 15-3, in the season-opener, Cameron's boys were stunned 10 days later by the same team, 14-9.
“After our (April 20) performance up in Hanover, I thought, 'Maybe they're just better than us,'” Cameron said. “But I could tell right away (in the final) that our kids were ready to play.”
Fahey said he and his teammates “loved our matchups” for the title game. New Hampshire's top close defender took away attackman Christian Johansen.
Long-stick midfielder Brody Smith stayed glued to the other half of Hanover's top scoring tandem, midfielder and Michigan recruit Christian Wolter.
Johansen and Wolter, the sparks to Hanover's up-tempo game, did not score in the season-opening loss. They struck for seven goals and an assist in the win.
“We wanted to slow them in transition,” said Fahey, well aware Hanover's snipers combined for one goal in the rubber match.
R.I.T.-bound Jay Krzyston and Karaska's replacement, Endicott commit Sean Fenn, completed BG's dominant defensive unit. They helped take away the middle and force shooters to fire from the perimeter.
Goaltender and Harvard recruit Colin Delea (eight saves) took a shutout deep into the third quarter, which ended with BG boasting a 10-2 lead.
That's because Blake Boudreau owned the faceoff X after halftime.
BG's junior midfielder won 8 of 9 third-quarter faceoffs. It translated to lengthy possessions and a back-breaking 6-2 frame.
The fourth quarter? It was merely a formality.
Appearing in its eighth straight Division I final, BG became the first program since Pinkerton Academy of Derry (1999-2002) to celebrate a three-peat.
The Cards clinched their fifth crown since emerging on the scene as a surprise winner in 2005.
“They like to push in transition. But, 6-on-6, that's not their game,” Cameron said of the Marauders. “That took them out of their game – and (forced them) to play from behind.”
Division II: Snake-bitten in the 2010 final and 2011 semifinals, Bedford broke open a competitive championship game and rolled to a 12-4 triumph over St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover June 5 at Exeter High.
Attackman Jared Hornsby led the Bulldogs (19-0 overall, 17-0 Div. II) with three goals and an assist.
Jason Campbell (three goals), Nate Larrivee (two goals, assist) and Tyler Sullvan (two goals) also fueled Bedford's high-powered offense.
But it was midfielder David Phelps who set up Bedford for its second-half onslaught. He snapped a 2-all tie late in the second quarter.
Bedford's 3-2 halftime lead ballooned after the break.
Division III: Senior Trevor Kerkhoff lifted Hollis/Brookline High to a 9-8 overtime win against Pelham High June 5 at Stellos Stadium in Nashua.
Kerkoff's connection just 75 seconds into the sudden-death stanza capped a comeback for the Cavaliers (16-2 Div. III), which trailed by three goals entering the fourth frame.
Harley Kierney gave the Pythons an 8-7 lead with less than 2 minutes to play. But Sam Whitaker's quick answer sent the game to OT.
Division I: Concord High completed a perfect season and clinched its first championship since 2006 with a 17-6 win over Souhegan High of Amherst at Southern New Hampshire University.
The senior-laden Crimson Tide (19-0 overall, 18-0 Div. I) erased the bitter taste of last year's heartbreaking 10-9 title-game loss to Londonderry High. The game was decided in the final seconds, when Concord's Jenna Tewksbury was denied on a free-position shot.
Tewksbury was terrific in her final game. She and Jane Symmes each scored four goals and dished two assists. Seneth Waterman added five goals.
Concord's campaign included a regular-season sweep of three-time defending champion Londonderry.
The Tide snapped the Lancers' state-record 59-game NHIAA win streak with a 14-12 road win May 5. They proved the win wasn't a fluke by beating the Lancers at home in the May 25 regular-season finale, 12-8.
“I had a lot of faith in the girls. I knew they could do it,” Concord coach Terry Anderson said. “We all left that (2011 final) feeling we wanted to be back here a year later.”
Division II: One year after a runner-up finish, Merrimack High clinched its first crown. The Tomahawks posted a 16-12 win over Bishop Guertin June 5 at SNHU.
Amanda Dionne (five goals) and Tara Quinnell (three goals) scored six points apiece for the Tomahawks, which finished 17-1 in league play. Season-long stars Lauren Perry and Emily Pollard also had multiple-point games, and freshman goaltender Cat Green stopped nine shots.
Division III: Windham High did not lose a game in its second season of varsity action. The Jaguars completed an undefeated season with a 15-10 victory against Kearsarge Regional of North Sutton.
Freshman Ali Connors led the Jaguars (18-0 Div. III) with six goals. Sophomore Melissa Cino notched five assists, in addition to scoring twice.
TRACK & FIELD
Division I: Pinkerton and Exeter High celebrated team championships May 25 at Winnacunnet High in Hampton.
Pinkerton's boys last finished No. 1 in 1984. Exeter's girls, meanwhile, reigned supreme for the first time. The Blue Hawks finished second four of the previous six seasons.
Hillary Holmes won the 300-meter hurdle (44.81 seconds), long jump (18 feet, 3.75 inches) and triple jump (38 feet, 2 inches) to earn 38 points for her team. The Blue Hawks tallied 94 to edge BG by five points.
Guertin junior Betsy Garnick set a new state record in the 100-meter hurdles. She posted a time of 14.48 seconds, breaking by four-hundredths of a second the mark that stood for 24 years.
On the boys' side, Pinkerton outlasted North, 67-59.
Chris Poggi's first-place finish in the 800-meter run (1:55.25) helped the Astros. The 4x400-meter relay team also finished first (3:27.87).
Division II: Souhegan's boys and Coe-Brown Academy's girls celebrated team titles May 26 at Milford High.
The boys tallied 80 points and comfortably distanced themselves from Bedford (65). Tanner Kent took top honors in the 400-meter dash (49.84) and Ben DeForest won the 110-meter hurdles (15.18).
The girls from Northwood tallied 118 points, 25 more than runner-up Bedford. Hannah Parker won individual titles in the 400-meter dash (57.71), 800-meter run (2:19.66) and 1,600-meter run (4:59.54) to pace the Bears.
Division III: Bow High's boys and White Mountains Regional's girls won hardware May 26 at Newfound Regional in Bristol.
Jonathan Vinnenberg led Bow with wins in the 400-meter dash (51.56), 800-meter run (2:02.30) and 1,600-meter run (4:43.65). The Falcons scored 100 team points to create separation from Stevens High of Claremont (68).
Jessica Schanlaber (1,600-meter run, 5:27.08), Eryn Voigt (high jump, 5 feet) and Karisa Bergman (discus throw, 113-6.0) paced the squad from Whitefield.
QUEEN OF THE COURT
Julia Keenan closed a stellar career of NHIAA girls' tennis with a 6-0, 6-1 win in the championship match June 7 at SNHU.
The senior at St. Thomas Aquinas set a new standard of excellence. Topping Casey Geddes of Manchester Central High, Keenan became the first female to win four consecutive individual titles.
Keenan entered this season as just the second three-peat champion (Milford's Tracy Poirier, 1986-88) since the NHIAA first had a girls' singles tournament in 1967.
Marc Thaler is a reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He co-hosts the “N.H. Sports Show” on Manchester's WGIR-AM 610 and the Seacoast's 96.7 FM every Saturday morning. Read his “New Hampshire GameDay” blog and follow him on Twitter: @marc_thaler.