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Opening Draw: Better late than never for L-S

Courtesy of Paul Bisson

SUDBURY, Mass. –The silence was deafening.

There the Lincoln-Sudbury girls’ lacrosse team sat, the wounds of its 16-5 beating at the hands of perennial state power Westwood still fresh. Eight games in, the Warriors were 3-4-1—their goal of a DCL title all but shot, their tournament hopes in question.

If there was a time this could all be turned around, it was in this moment.

“We just laid it all out on the line. I remember it very clearly,” head coach Bowen Holden recalled. “I looked at them and said, ‘You’re not young anymore, and nobody, including the coaching staff, can use that as an excuse anymore. We’re halfway through the season and it’s go time now.’

“And [the girls] couldn’t have responded any better.”

The speech served as an injection of new life, infusing L-S with the grit of an underdog and the confidence of a contender.

Since then, the team has gone 6-2-2 in 10 games, matching wits with the toughest of foes. More often than not, the Warriors emerged victorious, collecting wins against Westford Academy (twice), Wayland and Weston along with draws against DCL giants Acton-Boxborough and Concord-Carlisle.

Most recently, L-S shocked everyone outside of its own locker room by knocking off the No. 2-seeded Colonials last week to earn a spot in the Division I East sectional semifinals.

Not bad for a team that waited until its second-to-last game to secure a tournament berth.

“[The A-B win] was a big confident booster, obviously,” said Holden. “But they earned every ounce of that win. They came back into practice after [beating Westford in the first round] and got right back to business.”

Whether it was due to the tough-as-nails schedule—ranked No. 1 in strength of schedule on LaxPower—or the large graduating class from the year before, not many people expected big things from the Warriors this season.

However, the junior sextet of Katherine Malone, Katie DeFreitas, Clara Bison, Emily Gorman, Katharine Yenke and Makayla Ward has fueled the team. You could even call them the backbone.

And given L-S’ lack of returning leadership—only one senior on the squad—the girls have been burdened with a task rarely asked of juniors.

“Really the credit goes to the [six juniors] and what they’ve done to lead this team and bring hat focus and work ethic day in and day out,” Holden said. “Early on, they were trying to navigate the waters of leadership and figure out what this all means and a lot was being asked of them. And they just weathered the storm and learned from each mistake and just got better and better.”

When the Warriors step on the field against Franklin on Tuesday, they won’t just be representing the DCL. This is a team that has battled through adversity and obstacles since day one.

Even to Holden — who has coached at the Division I college level (Boston College) and currently coaches the U.S. women’s national team — this is a year she won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

“This has been one of the most rewarding and fun seasons of coaching I’ve had in a long time,” Holden admitted. “I’m so proud of everything [the girls] have done and accomplished already. They just responded to every challenge along the way.”

Weekly Rewind: Lincoln-Sudbury stuns Acton-Boxborough…again

In what has been somewhat of a trend over the years, the Warriors seem to always have the Colonials number.

That continued when the two met during last week’s Division I East sectional quarterfinal.

Final Score: No. 7 Lincoln-Sudbury 9, No. 2 Acton-Boxborough 7

MVP: Hannah Chen – The sophomore defender came up huge for the Warriors, stonewalling the Colonials’ stud playmaker Leah Cardarelli, limiting her to just an assist on the day.

Turning Point: After going down 2-0 midway through the first quarter, L-S stormed back for five unanswered goals to take a 5-3 lead into the half. That proved to be the difference, as A-B never got within two the rest of the way.

THREE CHEERS

Sophia Turchetta, Bromfield – The state’s all-time leading scorer, Turchetta continued her torrid pace. The junior midfielder totaled 19 goals, two assists and 21 draw controls in two games to help lead the Trojans.

Meg Collins, Masconomet – The senior captain picked up seven goals, eight ground balls, eight draw controls and caused two turnovers. She’s been the heart and soul of a Chieftains squad looking to earn a place in the North sectional final.

Carly Coleman, Needham – Just like she has all season long, Coleman was the anchor defensively for the Rockets last week. In two games, the Marquette-commit racked up…

TOURNAMENT NOTES

Home field advantage paying off – Thus far, the top seeds are finding life good to be the favorite.

Teams ranked No. 1-3 in their respective regions have gone a combined 30-2 through the first couple rounds of the tournament. The only exceptions have been Acton-Boxborough (D1E) and Bishop Fenwick (D2N) who lost to Lincoln-Sudbury and Ipswich respectively. That leaves us with several scintillating matchups this week.

We remember you – Sometimes, revenge is a dish best served when the stakes are at the highest.

That will be the mindset of many teams this week, as eight of the 16 semifinal matchups feature a rematch from the regular season. That includes Andover-Billerica, Masconomet-North Andover and Notre Dame (Hingham)-Needham among others.

Looking Ahead

Some terrific matchups highlight this week’s semifinal action. (All picks were made prior to the tournament games played on 6/8):

DIVISION I

EAST – No. 5 Framingham at No. 1 Concord-Carlisle, Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.

The Patriots (17-1-1) have been on quite a roll ever since dropping their first game of the season while the Flyers (16-6) will be looking to make a statement that Framingham lacrosse is back. Although Concord-Carlisle looks to be the favorite, it’s never that easy when it comes to these two. In six meetings since 2011, the Flyers hold a 3-2-1 advantage, with all but two of those games decided by two goals or less. Still, it’s hard to look past Framingham’s woes against top competition this season—just 1-6 against Top 25 opponents.

Pick: Concord-Carlisle

EAST – No. 7 Lincoln-Sudbury at No. 3 Franklin, Tuesday, 5 p.m.

It will be teacher versus pupil when the Panthers (15-4) welcome the upstart Warriors (9-6-3) to town. There’s no doubt Lincoln-Sudbury has been playing some fine lacrosse since the turn of May, taking points from teams such as Acton-Boxborough (twice), Concord-Carlisle, Wayland and Weston. However, don’t expect Franklin to be caught off guard after needing a second-half rally to push past Natick in the previous round. Look for the Panthers to win a close one, eliminating the Warriors for the second consecutive year in a row.

Pick: Franklin

NORTH – No. 4 Andover at No. 1 Billerica, Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.

This will be a matchup between two teams with something to prove. In one corner, you have the Golden Warriors (15-5) led by first-year coach Cat Gross, who is trying to return the program to its high level of play from not too long ago. After a shaky stretch that saw Andover drop five in an eight-game span, the team seems to be in top shape, winning six in a row. In the other corner, the Indians (18-1) have taken the MVL by surprise, achieving feats the program hasn’t accomplished in over a decade. The team has played solid lacrosse week-in and week-out and has maintained that success against top opposition, going 5-1 against Top 25 foes. Unfortunately, a lack of depth—Billerica only has 13 players on the roster—could be the difference in this one.

Pick: Andover

NORTH – No. 3 Masconomet at No. 2 North Andover, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

This one’s about payback—for both sides. The Chieftains (15-4-1) have seemingly saved their best lacrosse for the stretch run, winning six in a row and 13 of their last 14 against in-state competition. However, the team won’t forget what their opponent this week did to it last season—sweeping the regular-season series while delivering the knockout punch in the tournament. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights (16-6) will be looking to overcome a late-season slide that included dropping three of their last five contests, including one against Masconomet. Backed by arguably the top goalie in the state (Lauren Hiller), the team hopes to make a return trip to the state semifinals. Experience should give North Andover the edge once again.

Pick: North Andover

SOUTH – No. 4 Wellesley at No. 1 Westwood, Wednesday, 6:30 p.m.

Many consider this matchup to be nothing more than a formality. The Wolverines (21-0) have dominated girls’ lacrosse for the past decade, racking up state titles. Winners of 45 in a row, Westwood has been as dominant on defense—only two opponents have topped six goals—as it has been on offense. Then again, it would be unwise to count out the Raiders (17-1-1), who have proven all season long they can play with top competition, going 6-1 against Top 25 opponents. This is the same team that nearly topped Needham on the road. Although the Wolverines should have the advantage, it will be a lot closer than many think.

Pick: Westwood

SOUTH – No. 3 Notre Dame (Hingham) at No. 2 Needham, Wednesday, 5:45 p.m.

If the rematch is anything like the regular-season meeting between these two, we’re all in for a treat. The Rockets (21-1) won the first meeting, 11-10, and used that to springboard themselves onto one of the best seasons the program has had in recent years. With players such as Katie Belval, Carly Coleman, Liz Vallatini and the Walsh sisters leading the way, Needham has to feel comfortable going into this one. Although the Cougars (20-3) came up on the short end of that meeting, this is a completely different team from that game. Notre Dame has worked out the kinks and been on a roll as of late, winning 12 in a row, including topping both of its tournament foes by a combined score of 35-6. It’s literally a coin flip to determine who might come out on top in this one.

Pick: Notre Dame (Hingham)…by a hair

CENTRAL/WEST – No. 5 Westborough at No. 1 Longmeadow, Tuesday, 5 p.m.

There are few teams who have played as well as the Lancers (17-3) over the past month. If winning eight in a row while scoring 18 or more goals four times in that span isn’t impressive enough, consider that Longmeadow also added a victory over then-No. 9 nationally ranked Darien recently. This is a team that is playing in peak form at the moment. Conversely, after a strong start to the season, the Rangers (13-4) stumbled into the playoffs, losing their last two. The team will have to dig real deep to compete in this one. Barring a major setback, the Lancers shouldn’t have too much difficulty.

Pick: Longmeadow

CENTRAL/WEST – No. 3 Algonquin at No. 2 Minnechaug, Wednesday, 5 p.m.

This is another one of those rematches. After a couple early season struggles, the Falcons (15-4) have played some outstanding lacrosse. Led by outstanding senior Liz Mastrio (67 G, 58 A), this is a team that can put up points with no trouble. On the other hand, the T-Hawks (14-4-1) are hoping a battle-tested schedule will pay dividends in the tournament. Although the team went 0-3-1 against Top 25 opponents, those games were decided by a combined six goals. In a game that could be decided in overtime, expect Minnechaug’s experience to edge it out.

Pick: Minnechaug

DIVISION II

EAST – No. 4 Foxborough at No. 1 Medfield, Wednesday, 5 p.m. – Backed by a 15-0 record against Division II foes this season, Medfield (15-3-1) should once again power past Foxborough (14-7-1).

EAST – No. 3 Walpole at No. 2 Dover-Sherborn, Tuesday, 5 p.m. – Although the Rebels (14-5) have won two of the last three—including last year in the tournament—the Raiders (16-4-1) should have no problem extending the best season in program history.

NORTH – No. 4 Triton at No. 1 Austin Prep, Monday, 6 p.m. – Look for the Vikings (14-8) to capitalize on the Cougars’ (20-1) weak strength of schedule.

NORTH – No. 6 Ipswich at No. 2 Marblehead, Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. – The Magicians’ (14-4-1) proven ability to play against top competition—nine victories and a tie versus Division I opponents—will be the difference against the Tigers (11-5).

SOUTH – No. 4 Old Rochester at No. 1 Norwell, Tuesday, 5 p.m. – The streaking Clippers (14-5)—winners of eight of their last nine—will prove too tough a task to overcome for the Bulldogs (14-5-1).

SOUTH – No. 3 Hanover at No. 2 Cohasset, Monday, 6 p.m. – Don’t be surprised if this matchup goes the way of the previous meeting between the Skippers (14-3) and Indians (12-4)—a 19-12 Cohasset victory.

CENTRAL/WEST – No. 5 Groton-Dunstable at No. 1 Bromfield, Wednesday, 7:15 p.m. – The firepower of Trojans (18-1-1) stud junior Sophia Turchetta will be too much to handle for the Crusaders (11-6).

CENTRAL/WEST – No. 3 Littleton at No. 2 Grafton, Wednesday, 7 p.m. – Winners of 11 of their last 12, the Tigers’ (15-3) momentum should guide them past the Indians (17-3).

GROUND BALLS

1 – The number of losses Lincoln-Sudbury has suffered against Acton-Boxborough in 22 games since 2006

9 – The number of consecutive seasons Needham has seen end at the hands of the Frank family—Westwood and Notre Dame (Hingham)

Got a player nomination, story suggestion or interesting fact to share? Sebastian Lena can be reached via e-mail at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com or on Twitter @SP7988