Lexington edges Winchester in a thriller

WINCHESTER, Mass. -- Technically there wasn’t anything riding on the lacrosse game between Lexington and Winchester on Thursday afternoon.

The two teams could both stake claim to the Middlesex League championship after finishing 7-1 in league play, also this most recent game was considered a nonleauge matchup because of league rules that state that a team only has to play a league opponent once in the 2011 season.

With both teams comfortably in the playoffs there was nothing to play for, right?

It sure didn’t look like it when Lexington (12-4) stormed the field after late heroics from Conor Henrie gave the Minutemen a 4-3 victory, their second of the season against their rival Winchester (10-5), at Knowlton Stadium.

“There are no two teams that want to beat each other more than Lexington wants to beat Winchester and Winchester wants to beat Lexington,” Minutemen head coach David Walsh said. “It’s about as healthy a rivalry as there is in Eastern Mass. There are other ones that are just as contentious, but these two teams really respect each other.”

The rivalry was clearly swinging in Lexington’s favor for the majority of the game, but the Sachems made a valiant comeback to tie things with less than a minute left to play in the game.

Ryan Nagle pulled the score to 3-2 with the kind of hustle play that had been lacking in the previous three quarters for the Sachems. Nagle chased down the long-stick defender and poked the ball away with a strong check. He gathered the ball, darted towards goal and beat Shane Foley with 4:10 left in the game.

The ball kicked around on the ground moments later -- which seemed to be the theme late in the game on a slick field -- and Tyler Calnan came up with the possession for the Sachems with 43.6 seconds remaining.

Winchester called timeout to set up a possession and Calnan was the one to capitalize on the opportunity. After several passes around the perimeter, Calnan deposited an Andrew Laugharn pass with 22.6 seconds remaining to tie the game up.

“We were able to keep them at bay, but then they started beating us on the pass,” Walsh said. “We had trouble clearing the ball and they got the ball back.”

The game came down to the all-important final draw, and Lexington came up with it. The ball hit the turf with time winding down and Henrie corralled a ground ball and made a strong move to the right. He was able to get off a cross-body shot into the back of the net for the game-winner.

“(Henrie’s) got good speed and when he’s running downhill it’s tough to cover him in those situations,” Walsh said.