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Raiders’ Kriplin reflects on first, last lacrosse season

  • Jake Kriplin

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 6/9/2021 10:06:54 PM
Modified: 6/9/2021 10:06:57 PM

PLYMOUTH, N.H. — Jake Kriplin may have gotten on the ground floor of something only to have to step off the elevator.

The Lebanon High senior repelled two years of entreaties by former boys lacrosse coach Rob Fett to give the game a try. You’d be a great lacrosse player and an asset to the program, Fett would tell him; the small and speedy Kriplin wasn’t convinced then, but he ultimately figured his last season of school sports might be the time to give it a go.

Even as the Raiders saw their season end in a 10-6 NHIAA Division III semifinal loss to Plymouth on a sunny, breezy Wednesday afternoon, Kriplin smiled. He’d never picked up a lacrosse stick before joining new coach Cole Flannery’s roster; now he — and the Raiders — might be onto something.

“I don’t know why I resisted; I was going to do it junior year, but COVID hit,” said Kriplin, who settled into a longstick midfield role with Lebanon (8-9). “I decided, hey, I’ll do it this year. I just wanted to be a part of this group of guys and see if I could help them out.”

Beating the Bobcats (14-4) was going to be a tough ask for Flannery’s group. Already a roster of barely two dozen, Lebanon lost two midfielders — Griffin Urnezis (broken arm) and Simon Amaro (head) — during its 12-6 quarterfinal defeat of Monadnock on Saturday. A third, junior Hunter Grant, lasted just barely three minutes against Plymouth, his left knee buckling as he finished off Lebanon’s first shot on goal.

That’s just the punctuation on the season’s sentence, however. Throughout, Flannery got much more from the Raiders than he first anticipated he would.

“My only goal was improvement, so I would say we surpassed that at this point,” Flannery said. “I told them they’re all incredibly hard workers and you can’t teach that, so I lucked out with that.”

Plymouth essentially won the game in the first 4½ minutes thanks to three quick goals. The hosts had the lead up to 7-1 near the mid-point of the second quarter, but to its credit Lebanon refused to budge, never close enough to scare but never far enough away to disappear.

Kriplin saw plenty of action. Longstick midfield suited the senior’s skill set, said Flannery, who termed the middie “superhuman.”

“He runs more than anybody on our team; he doesn’t complain,” Flannery explained. “He just sees the field. He played soccer, he played hockey; he sees the field well. Honestly, he’s one of the best kids I’ve been around on a team. He’s there. He’s quiet, he does what you say and he works hard. He’s a machine.”

In similar fashion, Flannery had to teach the Raiders that lacrosse is more than scoring goals and leveling opponents. There are proper mechanics to taking a draw, holding a stick, bumping off a defenseman, knocking the ball away from a foe and charging away in the opposite direction.

Lebanon needed half a season — and eight losses in its first nine games — before Flannery’s lessons took hold. The Raiders saw nothing but success the rest of the way, winning seven straight contests before Wednesday’s season-ender.

“Three minutes in, our starting middie (Grant) is out; we’ve already got two starters out,” Flannery said. “Then (sophomore attackman) Ethan Price, toward the end of the game, he’s out now. It’s like musical chairs; we pull whatever middie.

“We had a guy who’s basically a jayvee player running reps and another guy who doesn’t normally play that much getting reps. It didn’t feel even. We were trying to stay fresh, and they did a good job.”

Four Bobcats — Caden Sanborn, Trevan Sanborn, Brendan Marcoux and Nick Aprilliano — had two-goal games, and goaltender Jake Marcoux recorded nine saves. Lebanon picked up two goals from Griffin Auch and singles from Noah Mekus (assist), Alisdair MacPhail, C.J. Childs and Cesar Salcedo. Freshman netminder James Barrett made 10 stops.

Kriplin, the Raiders’ sole senior, said Lebanon went from the team that rarely wins to one that can prevail more in the future.

“I’ll just never forget the group of guys I played with,” said Kriplin, the pocket of his longstick inching above the top of his helmet. “How competitive we are and how we will never give up and how strong they are.”

And he was there when it started.

Lax facts: Lebanon last made the state semifinals in the mid-2000s under Star Johnson and reached its only state final in 2002 (D-II), the same year the NHIAA expanded to three divisions. … Plymouth will be playing in its program’s first state title game this weekend. … The Bobcats all wore shooter shirts under their jerseys bearing the words FULL TILT. … Former Hanover and Kearsarge boys lacrosse coach Herb Hatch was among the four referees on duty.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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