Raiders, Cardinals short on boys lacrosse victories but making up for it with effort

Stevens High midfielder Tyler Christian (11) shoots on Lebanon goaltender James Barnett (4) while defenseman Chase Adams (25) trails the play during the NHIAA Division III teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Stevens High midfielder Tyler Christian (11) shoots on Lebanon goaltender James Barnett (4) while defenseman Chase Adams (25) trails the play during the NHIAA Division III teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Tris Wykes

Stevens High boys lacrosse coach Scott Christian speaks to his players about their effort during halftime of their May 13, 2024, game with Lebanon in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won the NHIAA Division III game, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Stevens High boys lacrosse coach Scott Christian speaks to his players about their effort during halftime of their May 13, 2024, game with Lebanon in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won the NHIAA Division III game, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Lebanon High's Zac Mosely prepares to shoot while trailed by Stevens' Mason Harford (8) during the NHIAA Division III teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon High's Zac Mosely prepares to shoot while trailed by Stevens' Mason Harford (8) during the NHIAA Division III teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon High ball carrier Jack Hebert, center, absorbs a body check from Stevens' Ethan Cedarman-O'Neil during the NHIAA Division III teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Stevens' Carter Bastian is at left. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon High ball carrier Jack Hebert, center, absorbs a body check from Stevens' Ethan Cedarman-O'Neil during the NHIAA Division III teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Stevens' Carter Bastian is at left. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

Lebanon High's Gavin Gilson (1) escapes Stevens' Austin Simoneau during the NHIAA Division II teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Lebanon High's Gavin Gilson (1) escapes Stevens' Austin Simoneau during the NHIAA Division II teams' May 13, 2024, game in Claremont, N.H. Lebanon won, 17-5. Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. —Tris Wykes

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-14-2024 5:31 PM

Modified: 05-20-2024 12:03 PM


CLAREMONT — Last place was on the line Monday at Monadnock Park, and neither the Stevens High boys lacrosse team nor rival Lebanon wanted to claim the dubious prize.

The NHIAA Division III squads entered a combined 0-18 and it was Lebanon that got off the schneid with a 17-5 victory. Abe Pearson produced six goals and Benji Madory had five as the Raiders (1-9) peppered a pair of inexperienced Cardinals goaltenders. Ethan Cederman-O’Neil scored twice for the hosts.

The loss dropped Stevens to 0-11. It has three games remaining to avoid an eighth consecutive winless season, which would be the program’s 11th during the last 13 campaigns. The Cardinals are 3-167 during that stretch.

“I knew exactly what I was in for,” said first-year Stevens coach Scott Christian. “The players want to work. It’s just going to take time to develop them into varsity high school lacrosse players.”

Christian, who works for a local information technology solutions company, said he volunteered when it became clear that Abbey Rouillard, already Stevens’ field hockey and swimming coach, would also wind up with boys lacrosse. Christian is the Cardinals’ sixth coach in eight years, including Dennis Reilly, who is currently Lebanon’s first-year bench boss.

Stevens has been outscored, 178-39, this season and allowed at least 12 goals in every game. However, the Cardinals haven’t yet been shut out, an improvement over past years.

Why does Stevens maintain the sport? Christian’s response on stepping into the breach could answer that question as well.

“If the kids want to show up and play, I’ll show up and coach,” he said. “I see the long faces, but when they walked out today there were no sticks being thrown or bickering the way there has been in the past. They took the loss, but they got a good workout.”

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Hartford man held without bail following weekend standoff and shelter-in-place advisory
Lebanon employers seek to meet workers’ child care needs
Vermont Supreme Court to hear Tunbridge trails case
Bookstock literary festival grew too big to manage
Woodstock’s first Pride brings community together
Man gets DUI at Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery

Claremont’s middle school lacrosse program has been sporadic in acting as a feeder program. It’s currently being coached in part by Christian’s older son, Hunter, a 2022 Stevens graduate and former lacrosse player. His younger brother, Tyler, is a Cardinals senior headed to New England College in hopes of playing football and lacrosse for the Pilgrims.

The middle school roster has 15 players this season, Scott Christian said. Eight of those are eighth-graders, and he’s hopeful they’ll all join a high school team that has seen its numbers swell to 28 this spring. The baseball program, by comparison, is 5-6 but has only 15 participants.

“Are we going to contend for a state title?” Christian said. “Of course not. It’s going to take years to get that going. In years past, this (point of the season) is where guys started sniping at each other and not being a team, blaming and pointing fingers. I’ve seen very little of that this year.”

Scott Christian said he initially only committed for this season but recently agreed to return next spring. He didn’t play lacrosse in his native upstate New York but said he doesn’t think it’s a handicap.

“If this was a high-execution lacrosse team, it would matter,” he said. “In this case, the school needed someone who could encourage the kids to fight for a ground ball, to stay between (an attacker) and the goal and not to chirp at each other. You set that foundation, the rest can be developed.”

Reilly, Lebanon’s first-year coach, led the Cardinals in 2021. He signed on with the Raiders in part to work with his grandson, senior defenseman Danny Keefe, and inherited another rebuilding project, but nothing as severe as what he faced at Stevens. Monday’s clash wasn’t the easiest to manage, he said.

“You don’t want to become sloppy like your opponent,” said Reilly, whose current program is 50-122 during the past dozen years, with its last playoff berth coming three years ago. “We put a lot of guys out there who haven’t seen the field very much, including our goalie (Logan Mason), who saw his first game action.”

Unlike Stevens, Lebanon isn’t fielding a JV team. Its 26 players aren’t nearly enough in Reilly’s view.

“We’d need 40 or 50 kids to come out,” the lacrosse refereeing veteran said. “The JV level at Division III is kind of bedlam, and we didn’t want our kids’ skills to regress playing in it. I also didn’t want the possibility of players getting hurt. I need all my freshmen and sophomores on varsity.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.

CORRECTION: Abbey Rouillard is the Stevens  High boys lacrosse assistant coach. A previous version of this article included an incorrect name for her.