D1 girls' lax: Westwood 9, Longmeadow 7

BOSTON – It’s a lasting memory of high school that Westwood’s 14 seniors won’t soon forget. The group left a lasting legacy before moving on to college as they led the Wolverines to the 2014 MIAA Division 1 girls’ lacrosse championship with a 9-7 win over Longmeadow at Boston University’s Nickerson Field.

UMass recruit Ela Hazar recorded a hat trick to pace the Wolverines offense and fellow graduate Meghan Raskin made six saves in net.

“We went out on top, we left our mark,” said Hazar. “It’s the greatest feeling ever.”

Junior Brooke Troy scored her first of two goals on the afternoon with a quick strike just 4:14 into the game to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.

Longmeadow, returning to the state championship game for the second year in a row, responded quickly showing it would be no pushover. Olivia Shapiro and Elizabeth Suschana scored 38 seconds apart to give the Lancers a 2-1 lead at the 7:51 mark.

Colleen Burke tied the score less than a minute later before Hazar scored her first of the game at the 12:11 mark to regain the lead for the Wolverines.

Cailin Pandolfi, who had a terrific first half, tied the score before Suschana found the back of the net for her second goal of the afternoon to put Longmeadow back on top.

Westwood’s Kasey Keane and Longmeadow’s Alexa Cambi traded goals to end the first half with the Lancers up 5-4.

Wolverines head coach Leslie Frank’s reminder of the importance of ball possession sparked the Wolverines to a dominating second half.

“We made a decision at halftime to take better care of the ball offensively,” Frank said. “We weren’t giving our best shots. Even though we were having good takes, it was just going right to the goalie’s stick or feet.”

“At halftime, [Coach Frank] just kept talking about one goal at a time and one ball at a time. Every single ball was going to make a difference in this game,” added Hazar, whose goal 12 seconds into the second half tied the game, 5-5.

After Cambi regained the lead for the Lancers, Westwood rifled off four consecutive goals to put the clamps on Longmeadow for good. Keane tied it before Troy, Kimberly Egizi and Hazar put Westwood up by three.

Teagan Northrup gave Longmeadow some hope with a goal to cut the deficit to 9-7, but the Lancers couldn’t draw any closer.

Wolverine Chemistry: Westwood’s 14 seniors grew up playing sports together and have formed a close bond, but the group’s success exceeds the lacrosse field. Four Wolverines also played a significant role in the school’s MIAA Division 2 girls’ hockey state championship this winter.

“We’ve all been playing together since third grade,” Hazar said. “We’re all such close friends on and off the field. Lacrosse is everyone’s passion. No one was going to give up.”

“It’s a winning mentality. It’s a coach’s dream to have players who played together in other sports,” said Frank. “It’s very unique for seniors to finish four years together. They made a lot of sacrifices individually to play lacrosse in the offseason. A lot of kids gave a lot of hours to this team.”

It was of special significance for the seniors to go out on top and not lose the last game they’d ever play with each other.

“It’s the greatest feeling ever,” Hazar said. “It was the last time we were ever going to play together. We were all on the field playing for each and the coaches for all the opportunities they gave us through the years.”

Lucky headband: Raskin, the team’s senior backstop in net, had some unexpected adversity to fight through in the hours leading up the biggest game of her career. Her lucky headband went missing and her mother was sent to the emergency room this morning following a run-in with an unruly bat.

“She had a rough morning. Her mom got bitten by a bat and she lost her lucky headband,” said Frank.

Fortunately for Raskin and her teammates, her dad, a Westwood Police Detective, was able to put his sleuth skills to work to find the headband.

“My dad found it for me. He’s a detective. He’s good at that,” joked Raskin.

Whether the headband had anything to do with it, Raskin made six key saves, gaining strength and confidence as the game went along.

“It’s all about momentum with me,” Raskin said. “Once I get that first [save], I keep telling myself to get the next one. It’s all about confidence, trusting yourself and believing in your team.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” added Raskin of the final act of her high school career. “It’s completely amazing. It’s unreal.”