Marauders’ Comeback Falls Just Short in Quarters
Hanover High goaltender Chris Washington makes one of his 13 saves against Londonderry during the teams’ NHIAA Division I quarterfinal clash. The visiting Lancers won 5-4 in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover High’s Jesse Brown (5) has the ball knocked out of his stick by Londonderry’s Rob Hart yesterday. The visiting Lancers won the teams’ NHIAA Division I quarterfinal, 5-4 in overtime. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Purchase photo reprints »
Hanover — Jeff Reed, the Hanover High boys lacrosse coach, was sitting on the sidelines of Merriman-Branch Field yesterday afternoon, watching the school’s girls team cruise to a victory over Dover. Nearby, his own players sat with friends, joked amongst themselves and killed time while waiting for an NHIAA Division I quarterfinal clash with visiting Londonderry.
“I’m hope these guys are psyching themselves up,” Reed said, glancing at his troops. “You never can tell.”
Unfortunately for the coach, third-seeded Hanover came out a bit flat. The No. 6 Lancers scored the first three goals and four of the first five before hanging on for a 5-4 overtime victory, avenging a 10-4 loss to the Marauders on May 6. Rob Hart, Londonderry’s star attackman fired home the winning goal 1:24 into the extra session by cranking in a 10-yard shot from the right side.
“We made way too many mistakes to win the game,” said Reed, whose program saw a streak of consecutive semifinal appearances snapped at six. “We tried hard but were victims of our own mistakes and a lot of them weren’t forced by the other team. It was our own inability to handle the ball.
“Our defense was fine. We held them to five goals and that should be enough to win a game. We just didn’t get it done offensively.”
The overtime strike short-circuited a Hanover comeback that saw the hosts score three times during the fourth quarter and climb into a 4-4 tie with 8:22 remaining in the stanza. Reed moved senior standout Jesse Brown, normally a midfielder, to attack for the first time this season and No. 5 responded by cutting out from behind the net and running in almost a full circle before bouncing in a shot at the far post.
“I don’t want to throw anybody under the bus, but we needed some more oomph on the attack,” Reed said. “We weren’t getting any goal production. I wish I could clone Jesse and play him at midfield and attack.”
Said Brown: “A lot of teams don’t expect you to keep going that far around. I just look for an opening if they’re sleeping on the back side.”
Overtime started badly for Hanover, however, when Gavin Ratliff couldn’t win the opening faceoff. It got worse when overly-aggressive defenseman Josh Martin whacked Londonderry attackman David Wiedenfeld square in the mask with the head of his 6-foot stick, drawing a one-minute slashing foul. Goaltender Chris Washington subsequently made two of his 13 saves, but the Lancers scored with 12 seconds remaining on Martin’s sin bin stay.
“We didn’t want a penalty in that situation, but what are you going to do?” Reed asked. “They happen and (Londonderry) executed on the man-up.”
Londonderry (10-8) opened the game’s scoring in the fourth minute and struck for a 2-0 lead with two minutes to go in the first quarter. That advantage swelled to 3-0 just 47 seconds into the second quarter, but Hanover responded when Zach Taylor fought through several defenders to score 4.6 seconds before halftime.
Londonderry took a 4-1 lead with a goal midway through the third quarter but Hanover gradually wrestled momentum away, beginning with Worthy Gardner’s tally off a Conor Austin feed 18 seconds into the final stanza. Ninety seconds later, Austin somehow pulled his team within 4-3, appearing to redirect in a Brendan Forauer pass from atop the crease even as he was steamrolled from behind by a defender.
That set up Brown’s goal and a 4-4 deadlock. But Hanover (14-5) couldn’t keep its hot streak going, its season ended by an offense that was inconsistent all spring. Another factor was the dazzling play of Londonderry defenseman Eric Coburn, a junior who’s committed to attend NCAA Division II program Merrimack (Mass.) College and who was often a one-man clear.
“He picked off a lot of passes, and we should have been more aware of him,” said Reed, whose program lost 75 percent of last year’s scoring to graduation or prep-school transfers. “He stepped up big time and we had to struggle for every goal we got. We never really got into a good flow until the fourth quarter.
“Our goal is always to make the final four and at the start of the season, I thought it might be tougher than usual. But as the season went on, I thought we had a really good chance and fully expected it to happen.”
Brown, who hopes to walk on at Dartmouth College in the fall, left his last high school game with tears drying on his smudged cheeks.
“We didn’t play well this whole week in practice,” he said. “It’s a young team and we just didn’t have the playoff experience and we didn’t know the kind of intensity we had to bring. We definitely pulled it together a little bit, but it was a little too late.”
Tris Wykes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3227.