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Saturday, April 21, 2012
Recap: No. 18 Longmeadow 14, Pinkerton (N.H.) 9

By Marc Thaler

DERRY, N.H. -- Dylan Kelleher dreaded the idea of making the 2-hour bus ride back to Longmeadow High after losing to the same Granite State boys' lacrosse power for the fourth consecutive season.

The senior attackman's four goals – and a monster effort from his teammates – helped ensure a far different outcome in the latest meeting with Pinkerton Academy.

Kelleher contributed to a 12-goal second half for the No. 18 Lancers, whose emphatic 14-9 win Saturday at Memorial Field snapped a losing streak to the Astros that started in 2009.

“Last year, they came out and smashed us right away (15-7). Two years ago, they beat us in overtime (12-11), which was unfortunate,” said Kelleher, whose club improved to 7-0. “I'm not really sure about my freshman year, but I know we lost (17-8).

“This is my senior year,” he added. “My goal was to beat Pinkerton. Finally.”

After the first period, Pinkerton appeared poised to win in a rout. Joe Appolonia (two goals) one-hopped a shot that gave New Hampshire's No. 2 team the lead just 34 seconds into the contest.

The Astros possessed the ball throughout the first frame. They forced turnovers with timely stick checks, won ground balls, recovered nicely when caught out of position, and built a 4-1 lead.

“We came off the bus a little slow. Down, 4-1, it showed the character of the team to battle back,” Longmeadow coach John Rauseo said. “We outscored them, 13-5, after the first quarter. That's a nice win.”

Momentum began to shift in Longmeadow's favor just before halftime.

Coming out of a timeout, Bennett Leveillee (three goals) scooped a deflected pass and, atop the crease, popped a quick shot past Pearce Connal (eight saves). It was the period's lone marker, registered with 12.2 left on the clock.

Pinkerton (4-2) regained its three-goal cushion after the break. Evan Sweeney charged in uncontested after Cody Desmarais forced a turnover at midfield.

Then, the game-changer: An unnecessary roughness penalty on the Astros. The flag was thrown a moment after the Lancers were whistled for a cross-check.

“It was 5-2 when we get the penalty on them and we decide to retaliate because we were upset that the kid pushed us down, and kicked the kid in the face to get the matching penalties,” Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. “They scored two quick goals and the game wasn't the same after that.”

Leveillee buried his chance in 5-on-5 play. Keegan Dudeck (three goals, assist) fired from the top of the restraining box. The goals, scored in a 41-second span, pulled the Lancers within 5-4.

But they were only heating up.

Leveillee again capitalized on a ground ball with a quick pick-and-pop near the crease. Kelleher finished an easy catch-and-shoot from the left post to briefly give the Lancers their first lead.

Drew Kelleher was also instrumental, particularly in the second half. The sophomore took 19 of the game's 27 faceoffs. He won possession for his team 10 times.

Pinkerton's Dom Corsetto (three goals, assist) whipped a game-tying, man-up goal past Glenn LaFountain (seven saves), the unsung hero of the third period. The senior stopper made point-blank saves on Josh Gallant and Peter Field midway through the stanza to prevent Pinkerton from stopping the onslaught.

Longmeadow simply crushed it in crunch time. Eight goals. Five different goal scorers.

Ryan Coombs (two goals, assist) pulled the Astros even at 7-apiece with a long-distance submarine-style shot from the top-right corner.

But, as the clock dipped under 11 minutes, Eric Barsalou (two goals) snapped the deadlock. The Lancers, on top for the third time, didn't relinquish the lead.

Instead, they poured it on.

“Pinkerton is always a good challenge for us,” Rauseo said. “It helps us gauge where we are.”

Where might that be?

“We're 7-0,” Rauseo said. “That's all I know.”