Monday, May 23, 2011
Andover snaps Londonderry's 51-game streak
By Marc Thaler
ANDOVER, Mass. – The double-digit win streak is still intact.
Andover High's double-digit win streak, that is.
The Golden Warriors celebrated something Sunday that hadn't been done by any girls' lacrosse team in several seasons. They became the first club in two-plus campaigns to top New Hampshire power Londonderry High, posting an impressive 12-9 win under the lights at Eugene Lovely Memorial Field.
Londonderry's win streak – and one of the nation's longest active runs – ended at 51 games. It started after a 14-9 loss to Framingham in the third game of the 2009 season, and included back-to-back NHIAA Division I championships.
“It's going to be up there for a long time. Like I told these kids, they're part of it,” Londonderry coach Bob Slater said of the state record. “Who's going to touch 51 games? Not in my lifetime.
“That's going to knock us out of one of the top four or five (longest active win streaks) in the country,” he added. “It's something they can remember.”
Andover, meanwhile, clinched its 15th straight contest. The run includes last month's 12-5 win over Londonderry's arch rival and two-time reigning runner-up Pinkerton Academy of Derry, N.H.
Ally Fazio was a giant reason why Andover (18-1 overall) led for the final 42-plus minutes. The junior was a full-field force from the attack wing.
Her contributions included a marker during an early four-goal run that erased Andover's second deficit and produced a 5-2 advantage. Fazio finished with a game-high six points (four goals, two assists).
“I think (Londonderry's streak) was a really big motivator,” Fazio said. “They're such a good team. You could see it from when they warmed up to every time they had the ball on offense. It's a big accomplishment for us because they're such a good team.”
On this night, Andover was simply better.
The fourth-ranked squad in the latest ESPNBoston.com Top 25 won duels in areas Londonderry (14-1) routinely dominates.
Fazio gave the Golden Warriors the upper hand in draws. Attacker Jen Caro (three goals) posed problems around the crease. Goalkeeper Jillian Beucler (eight saves) denied several point-blank bids that clearly gave her teammates bursts of energy.
But Andover's biggest key to victory was undeniable: Lock-down defense in 7-on-7 play.
The defense's focus was Londonderry junior midfielder Jenny Thompson, already a known commodity to several Division I college coaches. She was constantly bombarded by double teams, many involving Fazio and Jackie Alois.
Thompson hit for three goals. But most often, she was forced to pass the ball as a result of Andover's aggressive defenders.
“It's definitely upsetting. But there's worse things that could've happened than ending our winning streak,” Thompson said. “All that matters is if we tried our hardest. I know I tried my hardest and everyone else on the team tried their hardest.”
Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, Leah Walter (two goals) cut into Andover's 7-5 halftime lead. Spinning to her left in traffic, the junior attacker created an open shooting lane and didn't miss.
Caro and Alexa Bedell (three goals, assist) soon traded tallies. But Andover's mixture of midfielders and close defenders didn't allow Londonderry to pull even at 8-apiece.
They relied on accurate stick checks. They closed quickly on free-position shots. They were relentless in pursuit when the ball hit the turf.
“Our first slides, our second slides, even our third slides are right there – right away. Constantly. Consistently,” Andover defender Emily Shields said. “We just went out and took it from them.”
The effort was particularly impressive, considering Andover played its second game of the weekend. The Golden Warriors beat Acton-Boxborough, 18-11, on Saturday.
As for the Lancers, they can still add to their in-state win streak. It stands at 49 games.
“We have so much respect for that Londonderry team,” said Andover coach John McVeigh, whose team's lone loss was to Needham, 11-8. “It's a nice win for us. But, I think, it puts into perspective just how incredible that streak was. The target's on their back every single day. They're as good a team as we've seen. That's for sure.”
Londonderry (14-1) 5-4—9
Andover (18-1) 7-5—12
Scoring: L – Alexa Bedell 3-1, Jenny Thompson 3-0, Leah Walter 2-0, Caitlyn Murphy 1-0, Kelsey Derhak 0-1; A – Ally Fazio 4-2, Jen Caro 3-0, Sara Miller 2-0, Weezie Gross 1-0, Anne Farnham 1-0, Kate Farnham 1-0
Saves: L – Crystalle Parent 9; A – Jillian Beucler 8
Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read his blog, "New Hampshire GameDay" and follow him on Twitter @marc_thaler.