BOSTON – Acton-Boxborough attack Chris Wiggins might never score a more significant goal again in his life. The senior’s double overtime goal propelled the Colonials past Duxbury, 5-4, for the school’s first ever MIAA Division 1 boys’ lacrosse championship.
The Bentley recruit had an additional goal and an assist in his team’s victory, a feat that rightfully earned him the game ball from head coach Pat Ammendolia.
“I can’t believe we won. It still doesn’t feel real,” said Ammendolia.
The low-scoring lacrosse contest drew comparisons to soccer’s World Cup, currently taking place in Brazil from some around Boston University’s Nickerson Field.
“We wanted to be in the game all the way through,” Ammendolia said. “Duxbury is a very talented team. We didn’t want them to run away with it. We were a little bit tight in the first quarter, but then we started to play our game.”
For as little offense as Saturday afternoon’s game yielded, there was no shortage of excitement and edge-of-seat thrills in the final few minutes of regulation and in the two overtime periods.
Duxbury held a 2-0 advantage after one quarter on goals from Niall Dillon and Shayne O’Brien. Acton-Boxborough scored the lone goal of the second quarter on a goal from Joey Biggins.
The Colonials evened the score just 16 seconds into the second half on a quick strike off a face-off. Wiggins fed Hunter Arnold who finished off the play. Duxbury responded promptly with a terrific individual effort from Brendan Burke for the goal that would give the Dragons a 3-2 lead.
James Kelly tied the score at three midway through the third quarter before Wiggins gave the Colonials their first lead of the game with just three seconds remaining in the third frame.
Duxbury’s Trevor O’Brien scored 3:26 into the fourth quarter, the marker that proved to be the reason the game would head to overtime.
It wasn’t fast-paced as both teams wanted to slow the game down and be deliberate with their possessions. The overtimes featured some close calls on both sides, but it was Wiggins who finally provided the difference maker.
The game-winner was a designed play out of a timeout, but the first plan didn’t work out as planned, setting up option two that led to Wiggins’ heroics.
“We called a play for Hunter [Arnold], but it didn’t work. We got the ball back to Wiggins and called a play for him to go hard to the goal. We taught him if it wasn’t there originally to just keep going around the cage. He found the middle and put it in,” said a proud Ammendolia.
Wiggins alluded to the pressure and intensity that comes with an overtime knowing that every chance could be the last one.
“It was the toughest situation we’ve ever been in,” Wiggins said. “We just wanted to get it done. Put it in the hole. In OT, it’s four minutes that you got to do what you got to do.”
Wiggins might have thrived under the pressure, but his coach had more time to contemplate all the possible scenarios on the sideline, including his team’s potential fatigue as the game stretched along.
“I was thinking, ‘please God score,’” joked Ammendolia. “In the second overtime we were kind of running out of gas.”
Mission Accomplished: As is the case when most teams win a championship, this run to the title started a long time ago. Wiggins and Ammendolia both pointed to events that led up to Saturday’s crowning.
Wiggins said his team was convinced it needed to prove it belonged in the upper echelon of high school lacrosse teams in the Bay State when the Colonials were bounced from the 2013 state tournament.
“Last season when we lost to [Lincoln-Sudbury] in the semifinals,” said Wiggins of a turning point for the program. “We made it a point that we wanted to go all the way. We wanted some revenge. The heart was there. All we wanted was to win a state championship.”
Ammendolia said he knew at the beginning of practices this spring that his team had what it took to be a championship caliber squad.
“March 17, 2014,” stated Ammendolia. “That was our goal to come here and win this game. We had our goal set on today. We got here and we did it.”
Crimmins shines: Duxbury senior goaltender Nick Marrocco gets a hefty dose of the spotlight and rightfully so, but on Saturday, it was Sean Crimmins’ chance to bask in the glory of victory.
“Sean is excellent. He was phenomenal last game. He was excellent today. You need good goaltending in a playoff run like this. He played well today and last week,” said Ammendolia.
The uncommitted junior goaltender was a major reason Acton-Boxborough was able to leave Nickerson Field with the ultimate trophy.
“He’s awesome. He’s uncommitted. If there are any college coaches reading this, I don’t know why you’re not picking him up,” stated Ammendolia.
Wiggins credited Crimmins’ ability to be motivated and put in maximum effort during the offseason as part of the reason for his success.
“[Crimmins] is amazing. He works so hard. He puts so much time and effort in the offseason. Today he kept us in it. He made some big saves and bailed us out. He deserved the game ball,” said Wiggins.
It might be debatable who deserved the game ball, but one thing is for certain. Acton-Boxborough earned the right to return home with a state championship trophy.