Medfield plays its ace in the goal
The free position is usually an automatic point in girls’ lacrosse.
There is no defender lined up within 4 meters of the shooter and there’s a clear path to the cage. Conventional wisdom says the situation, set up by a penalty, is a giveaway. But against Medfield High goalie Sarah Honan, common sense is thrown out the window.
In the Division 2 South final, Hopkinton coach Jodi Dolan even instructed her players to ignore whatever they’ve been taught — don’t just shoot the ball, but look for an open teammate to increase the odds of getting the ball past Honan, who excels in denying the one-on-one bids. And in the state championship game, either Winchester didn’t get the memo or the Sachems simply couldn’t refuse a wide-open look from 8 meters.
Honan stoned Winchester on four straight free position shots in the first half as the Warriors hung on for a 10-9 win to capture the first state title in program history.
“I understand where they were coming from,” Honan said. “They were down. They were going to do anything they could to score.”
“I think it’s so ingrained in a lot of players’ heads,” said Medfield coach Jason Heim. “When they get a free position they have to go to goal. But Sarah does an unbelievable job in free position shots. She made some big saves against some talented lacrosse players.”
Honan was outstanding for the Warriors all season, prompting some area coaches to call her one of the best in the state. And she’s only a junior.
“The quickness has gotten better and better, but she can still be quicker,” Heim said. “She’s been great with high shots, but she can get a little quicker to the ground. And just getting quicker with her decision making on outlet passes. But she’s got another year to develop and she’s already outstanding.”
The Concord-Carlisle High boys’ team entered the spring with a defense anchored by Air Force Academy-bound goalie Doug Gouchoe and 6-foot-6 long-pole Henry Bumpus.
And according to the scouting report, defense represented the Patriots’ strength.
In an eight-game stretch from April 17 to May 3, Concord-Carlisle didn’t hit double digits on the scoreboard. But then the MIAA tournament began, and suddenly senior Jackson Finigan started shooting and scoring like Popeye throwing punches after three cans of spinach.
“He was just possessed,” said coach Tom Dalicandro. “I think if we did awards just for the postseason, he played like an All-Scholastic and an All-American.”
The Patriots racked up 69 goals in six tournament games (even without leading-scorer Kevin Delehey, who missed the last two games due to sickness) and finished the season 22-0, winning their first Division 2 state title since 1998 with a 13-3 win over Algonquin Regional.
Finigan, who will play a postgrad year at Deerfield Academy before heading to Delaware, scored six goals in the game.
“He went through a drought early in the year. He was struggling,’’ Dalicandro said. “We moved him to midfield and it was, ‘OK, he might get a goal a game.’ And he did some good things for us, but he was just an average middie on a good team.
“But I think as a senior in the tournament, he was just thinking, ‘I have to step up. We’re not going to win 6-5 every game, we have to get some separation on offense,’ and had been working on his shot. But all of a sudden he couldn’t miss. I think he just took the offense on his shoulders.”
crown after close call
The Dover-Sherborn boys’ squad cruised to a 16-6 win over North Reading in the Division 3 championship game to capture the program’s first state title. But the Raiders’ biggest scare came in the semifinals, when Hanover was ahead in the second half.
That’s when Ben Newbert, like a conductor operating a baton, got the offense going; he finished the game with three goals and four assists as the Raiders came back to win, 10-9.
“Ben just always shows up,” coach Brian McLaughlin said. “He rises to the occasion. And he can play under pressure.”
The 5-foot-8 Academic All-American is headed to Duke this fall, but not to play lacrosse. “He’s too short,” senior teammate Billy Polk quipped.
But McLaughlin countered, “He’s one of the smartest kids I’ve ever coached.”
Jane O’Connor had a game to remember for Needham High in late April, ruling the face-off circle with eight draw controls in a win over Reading Memorial High. But two days later, in the final moments of a 13-9 win over Andover, the senior captain tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee and was forced to miss the rest of the season.
That only fueled the Rockets on their way to a 19-1 regular season record, giving the team its first top seed in the postseason under coach Beth O’Brien.
“We rallied around her,” O’Brien said. “That kid came to every practice. That doesn’t always happen. We had four or five 6 a.m. practices and she was at those too — just sitting there.”
When the Rockets advanced to the Division 1 South championship game, fellow captains Paige Tormey and Tory Waldstein pushed O’Connor in her wheelchair out to the center circle for the coin toss.
And O’Connor was the Rockets’ biggest supporter on the sidelines during the 12-9 loss to Westwood.
“She was getting so frustrated, we were joking that she was going to get tossed from the game,” O’Brien said. “But I told her, ‘You have no idea what you brought to this team.’ It pushed everyone. And it pushed me, too. The days I was tired and frustrated, I took one look at her and was inspired.”
drives Algonquin win
Algonquin Regional boys’ coach Rich Luongo stood on the sidelines during the second half of the Central semifinals against St. John’s High, turned to his coaching staff and said, “If they score another one, our season is over.”
The team was down 6-4 and time wasn’t on their side.
But senior Central Mass. All-American Conor Healey took over from there. He drove to the cage, was hit hard, and scored a goal on his way to the ground.
On the next possession, he fed sophomore Mike Wood on a backside cross for a one-timer that tied the game. Healey then won a ground ball and set up Wood for the winning goal.
It sent the Tomahawks to the Division 2 Central finals, where they beat Grafton, 11-9.
Healey, who will spend a postgrad year at Northfield Mount Hermon, tallied 68 goals and 77 assists this season.
“He did so much for us as a player,” Luongo said. “It’s pretty amazing season for someone that was shadowed and shut off and doubled. At the end of the day, we don’t get to that final without Conor.”
Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at jasonmastrodonato@yahoo. Follow him on Twitterat@JMastrodonato.