D3 North final: H-W 7, Newburyport 6

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
NEWBURYPORT, Mass. – It was a tussle that turned into a skirmish that ended as a battle. In the end it was Hamilton-Wenham holding on to defeat Cape Ann League rival Newburyport 7-6 to win Division 3 North and advance to Wednesday's Eastern Mass. Final against Cohasset.

In a defensive chess match it was defense sealing the game up when Hamilton's Jimmy Littlefield checked the stick out of the hands of Jonathan Bajko in the waning seconds to seal the win.

“I told [Newburyport assistant coach] Todd [Francis] a bunch of times that they played the best team game we've played against all year,” Hamilton-Wenham coach Josh Wedge said. “Every time I scouted them I was impressed with what they did. I knew we'd have to play a really good game today.

“We're going to need a much better effort in the next game, but I don't even care right now. North champions and that's what we set out to do all year.”

Both defenses made life difficult for the offense. There were a combined 28 turnovers and many long possessions ended without shots on cage.

Offensively, the Generals went as far as Matt Curran could take them. Curran scored five goals for the Generals, including their first four. He also handled faceoff duty.

“We were struggling early on so I thought in our open offense it'd be easier to drive to net,” Curran said. “Their slides were a little late, and I caught them a few times. That's how I got most of my goals.”

With starting attackman Matt Kelleher out after injuring his knee in the semifinal, Newburyport took a different tact offensively: distribution. The Clippers moved the ball around and it worked early as they jumped to a 3-1 lead early in the second quarter on the backs of goals by three different players.

Michael Shay was the lone Clipper to score two goals. Brendan Barraclough had a goal and three assists.

“We moved Brendan down to attack so he could play left side for Kelleher and that moved Matt Cote into having a few more runs in the midfield,” Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano said of his readjusted offense. “All the guys were kind of in place anyway considering it was the end of the season.”

The Generals found the offense they needed in the middle of the game. Hamilton-Wenham scored four straight goals over a 15-minute span that stretched from the end of the second quarter into the fourth. The three-goal was enough to hold off a late Clipper charge.

Curran's last two goals as well as goals from Griffin Webber and Brian Shaw gave the Generals the lead they would need.

“We just needed to possess the ball a little more,” Newburyport captain Drew Bourdeau said. “We couldn't get that done. Matt Curran's a great played for them; he stepped up big. We kind of broke down a lot of places, but biggest was possession time. They're good in transition, got a great keeper.”

For Bourdeau, and the rest of the Clipper seniors, they leave behind a legacy of leading the best team in program history and playing in Newburyport's first ever sectional final. This year's team went 17-2 and scored 118 more goals than they allowed.

“It's definitely the way I wanted to go out; we've never gotten this far as a program,” Bourdeau said. “Every single player stepped up; every single player gave everything they had. Very proud of them. It was just an unbelievable season. I'm glad to be part of the best team in program history.”




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