Boston High School: Christine Balzotti
June, 6, 2013
By Shawn Myrick | ESPNBoston.com
NORWELL, Mass. -– Norwell coach Kara Connerty reminded her current team of two of her former girls' lacrosse squads before its postseason rematch with Duxbury this afternoon.
Connerty brought out newspaper clippings of her team celebrating her first state championship in 2010, while reminding her players of a 13-12 loss to Duxbury in the regional semifinals the following year.
Senior Rachel Talanian, who participated on both teams, showed just the tenacity coach Connerty wanted to provoke as she scored a miraculous 13-12 game-winner with 22 seconds remaining to defeat fourth-seeded Duxbury (18-5-1) and give No. 2 Norwell (17-5-1) a Division 2 South championship in a what was a late two-goal comeback.
The Clippers advance to play Winchester (20-3-1) in the Eastern Mass championship.
“We needed to get through Duxbury in order to get to that state final game,” said Connerty. “We want to be that team (again). We heard from the sidelines 'two' and this was (our second to last) goal that needed to come off the wall today.”
The Dragons' looked to have had the final possession as senior Christina Balzotti began to hold the ball for one last play with 1:44 left. An illegal pick drawn by Talanian gave her the ball 1:06 later.
The senior rushed the entire distance of the field as she saw her opening, switched hands to dodge a defender and buried the winner over sophomore goalie Charlotte Wahle's shoulder.
The score was Norwell's first lead since the 19:47 mark.
“We do situational plays all the time in practice in terms of you are down by one or two with two minutes left and they go into a stall,” said Connerty. “Our defense played really smart to attack the ball, but not to have a penalty.”
“I was trying to at least get it over the restraining line (and) I am normally a lefty so I just switched to my left hand,” added Talanian.
Caroline Walsh had prompted the comeback early by assisting senior Mary O'Connell (three goals, two assists) on a counter attack at 3:18. The sophomore noticed her team had not yet caught up, waited for O'Connell to arrive and nailed the senior mid-cut as she finished the 12-11 tally.
After a Duxbury violation on the following draw, sophomore Catherine Connerty threw her body from behind the post and into a group of defenders out front to force a free position then bounced the 12-12 tying goal in at 2:08.
Duxbury claimed the next draw.
“We went into a double (team), because they were in a stall,” said Connerty. “(We) just played clean body defense and were able to get it back. They pressure us throughout so I think we just made good decisions.”
Trading goals nine total times, Duxbury appeared in control after scoring three straight early in the second half.
Dragons' senior Hannah Murphy (three goals) waited for her team to slide in front of the crease then cut in unassisted from the side of the net to equalize at 8-8 with 19:46 left. Two minutes later Murphy ripped a free position to the opposite post for a 10-8 advantage.
The two squads trading goals two more times to maintain the two score advantage.
Senior Christian Balzotti quarterbacked the Dragons' offense as she scored four goals and assisted four. Murphy netted three goals.
“(Balzotti) has provided that leadership throughout the season,” said Duxbury coach Kelly Jurgens. “It comes naturally for her.”
Talanian on Murphy: Talanian face-guarded the UMass-bound Murphy most of the game. Talanian simulated against a lefty teammate in practice to prepare for the role.
“We face guarded Hannah cause she is there leading goal scorer,” said Connerty. “To contain her to three was terrific today.”