Boys’ lacrosse season recap: Hawks soar to to D-III title, Falcons fly to No. 1 seed

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 06-15-2023 11:36 PM

After pulling off an 11-10 upset in overtime against top-seeded Bow, No. 5 Hopkinton finished off the season with a 7-4 victory over No. 2 Campbell in the Division III boys’ lacrosse state championship game.

Having starting the year 5-5, the Hawks ended the season with an eight-game win streak.

“As the season progressed, our offense got better and better, and I think the same thing happened in the (championship) game,” Hopkinton head coach Deacon Blue said after the title game. “They’re just such a cohesive team. … They’re incredibly selfless. Nobody is trying to do it all for themselves. It’s all for the team.”

The Hawks graduate nine seniors from this year’s team.

The Falcons had their strong 2023 season abruptly halted in the D-III semis with that heartbreaking loss to the Hawks. Arguably one of the biggest surprises among all area teams this spring, Bow turned things around in a big way after finishing last year 2-12.

“Wins were hard to come by for these guys last year. They didn’t take any win for granted all season,” Bow head coach Devin Calkins said after the Hopkinton loss. “They really enjoyed every second of it, and to go 2-12 last year and then only lose one game this year is an awesome turnaround, and I give a lot of credit to our seniors. We had an unreal group. Six senior leaders that carried us this entire way. I have nothing but love for those guys and this entire group.”

Those six seniors leave behind a program that feels it has more work to do in 2024 for sure, but the fact the team is merely in this position speaks volumes of how much Bow improved this season.

“I think we got to see how hard it is to win a championship,” Calkins said. “Getting over the hump is hard. Winning is hard. Winning a championship is even harder, so I think they got to see exactly what it takes to get there.”

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Meanwhile, Bishop Brady found itself on the positive side of an upset in the playoffs. Just 5-9 in the regular season, the Giants took down No. 7 Coe-Brown in the first round. Though Brady’s season came to an end the next game with a 16-6 loss to No. 2 Campbell, the Giants’ ability to pull off the win over a strong Bears team demonstrated tremendous growth after a 2-7 start to the season.

“The guys didn’t panic,” Brady head coach Frank Lamparelli told the Monitor after the 12-11 win. “They have been in this situation many times this year. They held it together and they believed in each other and fought through and finished together. I am so proud of them all.”

Coe-Brown’s early playoff exit comes after the Bears actually finished the regular season with the same record as Hopkinton (10-5). Because of tiebreakers, the Bears took the seventh seed and were forced into playing that first-round game. (The first six seeds bypassed this round.)

The Bears had beaten the Giants, 10-7, in the regular season, but Coe-Brown was unable to replicate that performance again, prematurely ending their playoff run.

Kearsarge was the only D-III area team to miss out on the playoffs. The Cougars finished 2-12.

In Division II, Pembroke reached the playoffs after a 7-8 regular season but lost to Windham, 16-4, in the first round.

Merrimack Valley, which started the season 3-1, lost nine of its final 10 games and missed out on postseason play.

“I think there’s more to come. I really believe in this team,” head coach Sean Gill said after a 16-0 loss to Derryfield on May 1. “It’s just going to come down to fine-tuning and getting more comfortable with them and them with me in this role. … We want to be a winning program, and quite frankly, I feel we have the athletes to do it.”

The Hillsboro-Deering/John Stark co-op finished the year 1-13. The 9-5 win over Spaulding on May 24 was the first in the program’s history.

Finally in Division I, Concord qualified for the playoffs as the eighth and final seed but lost to No. 1 Bishop Guertin, 22-5, in the first round.

After a 2-10 start to the season, the Tide played better down the stretch, winning three of five to snag that last playoff spot. Still, the program has some work to do to be able to compete with teams like the Cardinals at the top of the division.

“It’s a lot of guys learning in real time,” head coach Jeff Smith said after the Tide lost to Salem on a last-second goal on May 10. “Winning’s hard, and learning how to win is very hard. Salem made us pay for every little mistake we made. We didn’t get any freebies. If they’re going to make you pay every time you make a mistake, it’s just going to go back and forth. I thought we did some good stuff on O. I felt our D did some decent stuff but just a lot of guys learning in real time.”

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