Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Westwood heads to 5th-straight D1 South final
By Bruce Lerch
WESTWOOD, Mass. -- There was some hope this in the girls lacrosse community of eastern Massachusetts that 2011 was going to be be rebuilding year for Westwood.
After winning back-to-back state titles in 2008-09 and making a run to the state semifinals last year, the Wolverines have graduated dozens of talented players, four of whom contributed to this year’s NCAA Womens National Championship Northwestern squad. The hope was that the well had finally run dry.
So much for that theory.
Westwood roared through the regular season once again, its only blemish in 20 regular season games being a 15-15 tie with Western Mass. powerhouse Longmeadow. That run has continued into the postseason, and the top-seeded Wolverines have reached the Div. 1 south sectional title game for the fifth consecutive year after a resounding 18-7 victory over No. 3 Wellesley Wednesday night at Westwood High School.
Westwood (22-0-1) will face No. 2 Needham, an 8-6 winner over Notre Dame Academy in the other semifinal, in the South final on Friday at 6:45 p.m.
“We had a tough loss last year against Framingham [in the state semis] and we want to go out there and prove to people that isn’t a rebuilding year for us like everyone said it was going to be,” said senior captain Sarah Biron. “We’re not going to forget what it felt like to lose and we’re just going to go headfirst, all or nothing.”
Junior Laura McHoul was brilliant in running the Westwood offense, handing out a whopping 10 assists while scoring three times herself. Biron was the primary beneficiary, scoring five of her six goals in the first half as the Wolverines raced out to a 7-0 lead after the first 10 minutes, which they pushed to a 12-3 advantage at the half.
“I just know my teammates well and where they’re going to be,” said McHoul. “Its the experience of playing together over the whole season and knowing when someone’s going to be open and when they’re not. Its just knowing the players and having a good connection on the field.”
According to Westwood coach Leslie Frank, having a player the caliber of Biron, who will play at Johns Hopkins University next year, is one of the main reasons why her team has been able to pick up right where it left off because of how teammates such as McHoul have learned from her example.
“Laura is phenomenal. That’s her norm. Her assists are 5-6-7 a game,” Frank said. “She is the quintessential unselfish player and you know why that is? You have to talk about Sarah Biron.”
“Sarah Biron is unselfish, hits the open player,” Frank continued. “She’s taught Laura that. You have some of these star players on teams that do one thing. They go to goal, they don’t defend. Sarah’s example has brought Kate [Rich], Laura and Emily [McGrail] up to her level with that understanding of pass the ball forward if I’m not open or draw the two and find the opening.”
Rich, a junior, finished with four goals and an assist, while senior Emily McGrail celebrated her birthday with a hat trick.
For Wellesley, the loss marks the end of a pair of outstanding careers. Senior captain Blake Dietrick, headed to Princeton for basketball, finished with four goals and assist, while longtime coach Chris Molonea is retiring from coaching after a 30 years.
“We fought right the very end,” Molonea said. “I couldn’t any prouder of these kids. They never quit, never gave up.”