Monday, June 13, 2011
New England Roundup: New Hampshire
By Marc Thaler
The resume: Seven consecutive appearances in the Division I boys' lacrosse final.
The crown count: Four.
The program celebrating those staggering statistics: Nashua's Bishop Guertin High.
Guertin tightened its grip on the sport June 8 with a first-time feat for the program. Coach Chris Cameron and his Cardinals clinched their second straight title with an 11-8 win.
“This one feels good,” said Cameron, whose team finished 14-1 in league play. “This one feels good.”
Success was indeed sweet, considering second-seeded BG beat its fiercest rival. Top-seeded Pinkerton Academy of Derry entered the tournament final undefeated (20-0 overall) and perfect in NHIAA finals since 1997 when boasting an unblemished record (3-0).
Roughly 1,500 fans filed in to Stellos Stadium for the much-anticipated matchup played in extreme humidity. The final marked the fourth time BG and Pinkerton fought to finish No. 1 since 2005.
BG now owns a 3-1 record in those colossal clashes.
What prepared BG's young and inexperienced squad for this giant win? Try six grueling out-of-state games that left the team linked to an uncharacteristic 0-6 record.
Cameron annually schedules the most unforgiving non-league schedule of any team playing NHIAA lacrosse. After his team topped No. 3 seed Hanover High in the semifinals, 15-6, the eighth-year coach said this spring's out-of-state slate was the toughest to date.
The Cards lost to Massachusetts squads Lexington (6-4), Needham (14-11), Cohasset (7-4) and Duxbury (15-3). New Jersey's St. Joseph Metuchen (11-3) and Rhode Island's La Salle Academy (6-5) also beat BG.
There was also an 8-7 loss to the Astros, which snapped BG's 48-game regular-season win streak against in-state foes. Guertin had as many losses this spring (seven) as the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons combined.
Shut-down junior defenseman Bob Fahey said team confidence took a hit. But the losses served a purpose.
“It got us ready for this exact game, right here,” said Fahey, who has already committed to UMass. “Coach Cameron gives us that great out-of-state schedule to get ready for these games.”
Cameron's club took control of the final after halftime. The teams took the field for the third quarter knotted at 6-apiece.
BG's midfield- and close-defense – operating without defensive slides – caused all kinds of problems for Pinkerton. Fahey, Kyle Karaska and Jay Krzyston forced the Astros to shoot from the perimeter. Long-stick midfielder Brody Smith locked off lanes to the cage. Colin Delea (14 saves) made the necessary stops between the pipes.
“You've got to give credit to them,” said Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly, noting his offensive-minded club was contained to four goals in 6-on-6 play. “It's not like we were missing the cage. It's just the shots didn't seem to be there.”
Guertin, in turn, won the quarter, 4-1. First-line midfielder Paul Spinney scored his team-high three goals in the pivotal period.
Cameron said he saw this very effort coming. He said the team's best half of the season was the opening 24 minutes of the semifinal against Hanover.
“The way we were playing,” Cameron said, “we were peaking.”
Goalkeeper Sarah Ford saved the season for top-seeded Londonderry High. She also preserved a record win streak and extended the program's reign in Division I girls' lacrosse.
All with one giant stop. It clinched a 10-9 title-game victory over Concord High.
Just a sophomore, Ford denied Jenna Tewksbury on a potential game-tying free-position attempt with 21 seconds left in regulation. Ford's stick swallowed up a shot headed for the cage's top-right corner.
The save thwarted a furious fourth-quarter comeback bid by the No. 2-seeded Crimson Tide June 6 at Southern New Hampshire University. Londonderry celebrated its third straight title, finished 18-1 (16-0 Div. I), and pushed its in-state win streak to 53 games.
“I was just saying, 'I need to save this for my coach, for the seniors, for our injured captain,'” Ford told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “It was all for them.”
Concord's comeback coincided with the loss of Lancers defender Amy Johnson. The senior captain was sidelined for the final 10 minutes with an ankle injury.
Star junior midfielder Jenny Thompson (five goals, assist) paced the Lancers. Jane Symmes (five goals) was the catalyst for Concord, which finished 14-4.
Three of the Tide's losses were to the Lancers.
STOHRER'S SIX STRIKES
Dylan Stohrer is the single-biggest reason second-seeded Dover High survived the Division II boys' lacrosse tourney. The senior attackman scorched No. 1 seed Souhegan High of Amherst for six goals, including the championship-clincher with three-tenths of a second remaining in regulation.
Stohrer's spin-and-fire strike 10 yards from the cage clinched an 8-7 win at Exeter High's Eustis Field. It clinched the Green Wave's second title and first since 2005.
Dover (15-2) stormed back from a four-goal deficit in the fourth quarter. The comeback began after Brendan Laine gave Souhegan (14-3) a four-goal cushion in the opening minute of the frame. But it was the team's last score.
Stohrer, meanwhile, was just warming up. He buried four of Dover's final five goals, sending the team's contingent of the 800 fans in attendance into a frenzy.
Sophomores Emily Whitney and Devon Parker paced top-seeded Portsmouth High, last spring's runner-up, to its first Division II girls' lacrosse title.
The tandem tallied 15 points against No. 2 seed Merrimack High. It produced a 19-14 championship decision June 6 at Southern New Hampshire University.
Whitney was awesome on attack. She paced Portsmouth (18-0 Div. II) with a game-high eight goals and an assist.
Merrimack High (15-3) was the aggressor early. It built a 5-3 lead.
Lauren Perry (five goals, assist), Nicole Pelletier (four goals) and Erin MacLean (two goals) fueled the terrific start for the first-time finalist Tomahawks.
Portsmouth responded over the final 17 minutes of the first half and took a 10-7 lead into the break.
Whitney buried a feed from Parker to begin the second half. The girls teamed for two more tallies before time expired.
HAWKS FLY HIGH
Hopkinton High earned championship hardware for the first time in Division III boys' lacrosse. The fourth-seeded Hawks grounded Gilford High's Golden Eagles, the upstart No. 10 seed, 8-6.
Freshman goalie Matt French was masterful for Hopkinton (14-2) in the June 7 final at Stellos Stadium. He made 15 saves, six in the pivotal fourth quarter to deny hard-charging Gilford (11-7).
Gilford's Christian St. Cyr and Tre Galligan sandwich scores around a strike from Hopkinton's Brian Scala in the final frame. Hopkinton led, 8-6, with a shade more than 3 minutes to play.
French wasn't fooled again.
'CATS CLIMB TO TOP
In its fourth season of girls' varsity lacrosse, Plymouth Regional earned the top tournament seed and rolled to the Division III championship. The Bobcats knocked off Wolfeboro's Kingswood Regional, 14-9, at Southern New Hampshire University on June 8.
Plymouth (15-2) took control early. Nika Mosenthal (four goals) and Rachel Schwaner (three goals) paced the first-time champ to a 6-1 lead.
Kelsey Rogers recorded four goals and two assists for third-seeded Kingswood (13-4).
Division I boys' tennis: As the No. 5 seed, Bishop Guertin celebrated a tremendous run through the postseason bracket. BG eliminated second-seeded Exeter High, 7-2, in the tourney finals May 31 at Manchester's Derryfield School.
Guertin clinched in singles play thanks to wins by Andrew Xiao, Chris Prothro, Anthony Delpizzo, Aaron Wang and Chris Diesare.
Division I girls' tennis: Guertin completed its second consecutive undefeated championship season June 2 at Derryfield. The top-seeded Cardinals won their 34th straight match, edging third-seeded Londonderry, 5-4.
Allison Murphy, Lauren Hayward, Elizabeth DiCesare and Julia Filler won singles matches for BG. Murphy and Filler teamed to win the clinching doubles duel.
Division II boys' tennis: No. 1 seed Bedford High won its second consecutive crown May 31 at Concord's Memorial Field with a 5-4 win over second-seeded Hanover, 5-4. But the Bulldogs locked up the championship in singles play, winning five of the six matches.
Bedford's top five singles players all won. The quintet included Mark HoSang, Myles Utell, Jim Delahunty, McKinley Grimes and Taylor Summerville.
Division II girls' tennis: Bedford earned its first tennis title with a 5-4 win June 2. The Bulldogs, in Concord, prevailed by sweeping the three doubles matches against Portsmouth.
Bedford's doubles duos included Katie HoSang and Jacinda Williams, McKenzie Phelps and Steph Johnson, and Jenn Cutliffe and Ellen Wheeler.
Division III boys' tennis: Second-seeded Gilford repeated as champ, denying No. 1 seed Bow High a perfect campaign, 5-4, at Plymouth State University May 26.
Gilford's Parker Raus, Stefan Defregger, Mike Workman and Max Fisher won the Nos. 3-6 singles matches, respectively. Raus and Defregger clinched the crown in doubles.
Division III girls' tennis: Sunday Swett paced top-seeded Bow to an undefeated championship season. The sophomore won at No. 1 singles and clinched the title with a winner in No. 1 doubles. Her efforts helped the Falcons beat second-seeded Berlin High, 7-2, at Plymouth State University May 27.
Emily Zbehlik, Liz Rogers and Holly Stewart helped Bow forge a 4-2 lead heading into doubles play.
TRACK-ING THE CHAMPS
Division I boys' track and field: Nashua North High finished No. 1 on May 28. The Titans finished first in seven events at Merrimack High.
Senior Andre Williams won the 100-meter (11.12 seconds) and 200-meter (22.80) dashes. Classmate Eric Muite won the 110-meter hurdles (14.61) and 300-meter hurdles (39.98). Fellow senior Kirk Liberty was tops in the pole vault (11 feet, 6 inches).
Junior Samson Horne won the triple jump (42-3.25). The 4x100-meter relay team posted a winning time of 44.07 seconds.
Division I girls' track and field: Guertin grabbed the championship May 28 in Merrimack. Senior Cecilia Barowski won the 400-meter dash (57.18), sophomore Betsy Garnick placed first in the 100-meter hurdles (14.59) and freshman Molly McCabe was best in the 800-meter run (2:16.82).
Division II boys' track and field: On its home turf, Milford outlasted the competition May 28 for the first time. Senior Max Goudreau won the 100-meter dash (11.19) and long jump (21 feet).
Division II girls' track and field: Lebanon High cruised to the crown May 28 at Milford. Senior Cathy Liebowitz won three individual events. She placed first in the 200-meter dash (26.37), triple jump (35-10.50) and shot put (39-4.5).
Division III boys' track and field: Monadnock Regional of Swanzey won the title May 28 at Bristol's Newfound Regional. Senior Nick Athanasopoulos won three individual events, including the 110-meter hurdles (14.73), 300-meter hurdles (40.77) and long jump (20-9.0).
Division III girls' track and field: Hopkinton won its fifth straight title May 28 in Bristol. Sophomore Berthlyne Browne won the 100- and 200-meter dashes with times of 12.6 and 26 seconds, respectively.
GRANITE STATE GREATS
– Julia Keenan continued dominating the NHIAA girls' tennis singles tournament. The junior from Dover's St. Thomas Aquinas High, again the tourney's top seed, won her third straight title with a 6-0, 6-0 finals win at Derryfield June 7 against second-seeded Casey Geddes of Manchester Central High.
Keenan became the first three-peat singles champ since Milford's Tracy Poirier won three in a row from 1986 to 1988.
– Bedford's Mark HoSang won the NHIAA boys' singles crown. HoSang, the No. 2 seed, avenged last year's semifinals loss to defending champion Alex Burbine of Londonderry, winning the final, 6-2, 6-0.
– D'Mahl McFadden of Penacook's Merrimack Valley Regional broke two long-standing sprinting records during the Meet of Champions at Merrimack High June 2.
The senior defended his title in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 37.71 seconds, eclipsing the previous mark (38 seconds) set in 1993. He also won the 110-meter hurdles in 14 seconds – 13-hundredths of a second faster than the mark set in 1989.
– The girls of BG's 4x800-meter relay team also set a Meet of Champions state record. Shannon Veilleux, Sarah Burke, Molly McCabe and anchor Cecilia Barowski teamed to post a time of 9:15.02. The state record belonged to Central's 2002 quartet (9:21.23).
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.