LEXINGTON, Mass. - Billerica came into the third annual Creators Crosse Tournament as the favorite in the field, but the Indians would not be able to walk through anybody, if they wanted to take home the trophy.
In fact, according to senior captain Danny Lynch, winning the trophy required being “Billerica Tough.”
He said, “Coach always says that the phrase is ‘Billerica Tough.’ We always have to stay tough, persevere and get through everything. I mean we don’t worry, we just stay cool, play our game, and we just go after it and good things happen.”
Lynch, who finished with a hat trick, was speaking just moments after his goal with 1:03 remaining earned a 10-9 victory for Billerica (9-1) in Saturday afternoon’s tournament final against Franklin (8-1) at the Lincoln Park fields in Lexington.
“It was a great tournament and there were some great teams in it,” said Billerica coach Craig Flynn. “We’re fortunate to come away victorious. He’s from Billerica, so I think it’s only right we get to take it home this year.”
The Indians had trailed 5-4 in the second quarter but entering the fourth quarter held a 7-5 advantage. The Panthers were fired up coming out of the break and quickly got back into the game.
Junior Austin Kent picked out senior Kyle Lundgren from behind the cage with a diagonal pass across the crease and the midfielder made no mistake from close range cutting the lead to one just 40 seconds into the fourth.
Kent (three goals and an assist) tied the game with 7:44 remaining when he found a little space to fire home on the left side, but only eight second later the Indians took back the lead. Jeff Trainor scooped up a ground ball on the face-off and raced 40 yards straight down the middle before planting a shot past goalie D.J. Shea (12 saves).
Flynn said, “Dean Brooks was doing a great job on face-offs all day and I thought we had the better of the face-offs.”
Billerica made it 9-7 when Kevin Casey found Derek Laundry for a transition goal, but the Panthers continued to fight and again battled back to tie. First, Lundgren (three goals and two assists) was in the right place at the right time to pick up a rebound after Tyler Canto (nine saves) blocked a Kent shot. Then Lundgren made a pass while falling down to pick out jack Vail and the senior took a second before firing past Canto.
“Lacrosse is a game of runs, you know, and we kept getting up and those guys kept fighting, scratching, clawing to come back and it was game all the way through to the end,” said Flynn.
“We battled from two-goal deficits, three-goal deficits…With a few bounces either way we could have won,” commented Franklin coach Lou Verrochi. “They wanted this type of schedule and they proved that they belonged up here with the best.”
After winning the face-off after Vail’s tying goal, the Indians made good use of the possession by swinging the ball rapidly from one side to the other and Drew Laundry caught Franklin in a slide and picked out Lynch right on the edge of the crease.
“Once I saw the ball spinning back side, I knew my guy would go to the ball and I’d be wide open in the crease,” described Lynch, “and it was just him getting me the ball and me sticking it in the back of the net. It felt like slow motion.”
Verrochi explained, “We had a miscommunication on that crease guy. He shouldn’t have had a shorty on him, he should have had a pole, and that sort of hurt us. He didn’t realize it was his responsibility and when he did it was too late.”
The Panthers won the ensuing face-off and had the chance to try and tie the game again, but Billerica’s defense held out and for the third straight game in the tournament, the Indians were able to bounce back from a first half deficit to pick up the win.
The Creators Crosse Tournament’s wooden stick trophy was designed by Billerica resident Rick Ortolani, whose son John was a former midfielder for the Indians and currently plays in Major League Lacrosse.
As the final whistle sounded, the players raced onto the field to surround Canto and celebrate the trophy. As Lynch explained, the Indians were bringing the trophy home.
“From the beginning, people were telling us that we’re the favorites coming in,” he said, “and we tried to give the people what they want and take it home. It means a lot to the program…we hope to do it next year, too.”