Boys’ lacrosse playoff preview: Bow headlines four area teams competing in Division III, Concord sneaks into D-I bracket, Pembroke in D-II

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 05-31-2023 12:22 AM

Bow boys’ lacrosse finished 2022 at 2-13. A year later, the Falcons soar into the playoffs with an unbeaten regular season (14-0) under their belts and the favorites to take home the Division III championship plaque.

The team allowed an average of just 4.6 goals per game and will take on the winner of Gilford vs. Trinity in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Bow beat Gilford, 11-4, on May 17 and Trinity, 8-6, on May 24.

In head coach Devin Calkins’ first season leading the program, the Falcons’ defense has remained consistently stout.

“We have really, really strong 1-on-1 defenders, and they love taking on challenges,” Calkins said after Bow beat Bishop Brady, 9-6, on April 21. “I think our offense and our defense go at it in practice really, really hard, and they make each other better.”

A big reason for the strong defense: a roster with more experience.

“We have a good number of seniors out here that are really leading us,” he said. “This is a group that's had tough times the past couple years, and they're super, super hungry coming into this season. Just keeping them organized is really the job for me.

“They're so good. They know what to do.”

A few spots below the Falcons, Hopkinton – last season’s D-III runner up – claims the five seed and faces off against Plymouth in Saturday’s quarterfinal. These two teams matched up in the final game of the regular season on May 24, with the Hawks victorious, 7-6.

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With a younger team this year, Hopkinton took a little longer to find its rhythm but enters postseason play on a five-game winning streak with the defense shining as a key strength.

“We’ve got Cam Bassett and Steven Reddy. They’re just really tough defenders, put the pressure on well,” head coach Deacon Blue said in mid-April after the Hawks beat Kearsarge. 

After his team beat Plymouth, Blue underscored how well his team has played lately.

“We are playing our best lacrosse right now and will keep things rolling into the playoffs,” he said.

Coe-Brown faces off against Bishop Brady in a double-local first round matchup on Thursday. The seven seed, the Bears won five of six to end the regular season, starting with a 10-7 win over Bishop Brady on May 12.

“To play with the focus and grit we did today was great to see, particularly coming off the tough loss to Plymouth last Friday,” head coach Tony DePalma told the Monitor after Coe-Brown’s win over Trinity to end the regular season. “Our seniors have contributed so much to the growth of our program the last three years...we’re incredibly proud of them. They’ve achieved their first goal of this year: our first winning season. Now, the focus goes on to preparing for our first round opponent. These guys are up for it, they’re hungry for it, and we will be ready for whoever it is.”

Bishop Brady enters the matchup having won four of six after a 1-7 start to the season. After the Giants’ 9-6 loss to Bow in April, head coach Frank Lamparelli saw reason for optimism. His team had competed with one of the best in the conference for a half, locked in a 2-2 tie, but ran out of gas in the second half. Learning how to finish was the goal coming out of that game and five weeks later, the team’s seemingly found more success finding ways to win.

Lamparelli also expressed optimism that his team was playing cohesively rather than individuals trying to take over the game.

“They're playing as a team,” he said after the Bow loss. “When I took over the program three years ago, we had a lot of individuality, a lot of non-lacrosse players playing lacrosse. These guys are playing lacrosse. They're playing as a team. They're fighting for each other. They're playing together, and they want to see success for each other, and I think that's the biggest difference.”

In Division I, Concord narrowly qualifies for the postseason as the eight seed. The Tide take on top-seeded Bishop Guertin on Saturday. BG finished the regular season 15-3 and beat Concord, 20-2, on May 11.

But since that 18-goal loss that dropped the Tide to 2-10 on the season, the team finished the year 3-2 to claim that final playoff berth. It wouldn’t have been inconceivable for the program to mail it in on the heels of the BG defeat and a last-second loss to Salem in the preceding game, but Jeff Smith’s team rallied.

“The scoreboard unfortunately didn’t work our way, but the effort’s there,” he said after the 13-12 loss to Salem. “First you get close, then you win, and if the guys could just put that into every game, hopefully fix the little things, and that’s a fun team to coach.”

In their regular season finale against Salem, Concord was able to flip the script, picking up an 11-8 win. Now, they’ll try to pull of a major upset on the road against the Cardinals.

In Division II, Pembroke is the area’s lone representative as the 13 seed. The Spartans will take on No. 4 Windham, a team they lost to 16-2 on April 18. 

After starting the season 6-4, Pembroke limped across the finish line, losing four of five to end the year.

Boys’ lacrosse playoffs kick off on Thursday.

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