Hopkinton uses short-handed rally to win D-III girls’ lacrosse title, cap perfect season

  • The Hopkinton lacrosse team celebrates after winning the Division III lacrosse final against Derryfield at SNHU on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton midfielder Ellie Morrall eyes the goal with steely determination during the second half against Derryfield on Tuesday, June 4, 2019 at SNHU. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton midfielder Ellie Morrall heads for the net during the first half of the Division III girls’ lacrosse championship against Derryfield on Tuesday at Southern New Hampshire University. Morrall scored two late goals in the 12-11 triumph. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Hopkinton attacker Lyndon Flanangan get hit by Derryfield defenseman Jess Carr during the first half at SNHU on Tuesday, June 4, 2019. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/4/2019 11:41:21 PM

MANCHESTER – The dream should have been over, but the Hopkinton girls’ lacrosse team refused to wake up.

The Hawks had gone from the Division III cellar to contender in the last few years. They reached their first semifinal last season, and even made it to the title game before losing. This year, Hopkinton was the top-seeded favorite going into Tuesday’s D-III final against No. 3 Derryfield at SNHU’s Penmen Stadium.

But the Hawks drew their fourth yellow card late in the first half, which meant they were down a player the rest of the game. Then they drew another yellow just 2:15 into the second half and went down another player, Lyndon Flanagan, who also happens to be the team’s leading scorer. Derryfield used the two-player advantage and took a late lead, and Hopkinton’s dream of a first title felt dead. Except it wasn’t.

The Hawks never lost faith, and senior Ellie Morrall scored two goals in the final two minutes as Hopkinton turned a disaster into a 12-11 win and a dreamy championship.

“I knew I wasn’t going to leave this field without a championship,” said Morrall, the normally defensive-minded midfielder who had a game-high five goals in the final after having a game-high six goals in Saturday’s 14-5 semifinal win against Bow.

Morrall’s heroics and the improbable win capped a perfect 17-0 season for the Hawks.

“A parent made a joke earlier in the year that maybe it would be good to get a loss under our belt, and I was just like, ‘Nope,’ ” said senior Amelia Bassett, who had two goals and an assist. “We did that last year and then we lost in the final, so I think going into this game undefeated just gave us extra motivation.

“We wanted that first girls’ lacrosse banner for Hopkinton and we wanted that undefeated season. It’s an amazing ending. It’s the best feeling in the world.”

When both teams had all 12 players on the field, there was little doubt which one was better. Flanagan, who also had to leave the semifinals after two yellow cards, scored the first goal just 45 seconds into the game and had a hand in the next three as Hopkinton built a 4-1 lead after the first five minutes.

It turned into a 7-2 lead after Flanagan (three goals, two assists) scored on a free-position shot with 4:27 to play in the first half. But Hopkinton was whistled for its fourth yellow 1:27 later, and the Cougars (13-4) finally took advantage of the man advantage (they were scoreless during their first three extra-player chances). Olivia Strong (two goals, assist) scored with 56.5 seconds left in the half and then Charlotte Rohlfs scored on a free-position shot at the halftime buzzer to cut Hopkinkton’s lead to 7-4 at halftime.

Despite being down a player, the Hawks felt okay at the half. They even scored the first goal of the second half when Morrall delivered on a free-position shot 1:19 into the half.

“We weren’t worried. Down one we were not worried,” Hopkinton coach Tim Bassett said. “Down two, we knew we were going to have to work.”

They went down two players after Flanagan was given her second yellow about a minute after Morrall’s goal. The work involved a full-time zone defense, not an easy ask for a Hopkinton team that normally plays man defense. Derryfield took advantage of the extra space and extra players to create wide-open looks and go on a four-goal run to take a 9-8 lead with 15:21 to play.

Still, the Hawks believed.

“I was really worried, but I knew we are the team can overcome that,” Morrall said. “So, I just kept working and kept pushing my team.”

Needing possession time to give her defense (and everyone’s legs) a break, Morrall approached every second-half draw with intense urgency. The result was an 11-2 second-half advantage in draw controls for Hopkinton, with Morrall taking every draw, after Derryfield held a 7-4 edge in the first half.

“She’s a true competitor and an exceptional athlete,” coach Bassett said of Morrall.

After Derryfield took that 9-8 lead, Morrall controlled the draw on her own, kept the ball in her hands and scored just 17 seconds later to tie things at 9-9.

The Cougars went back on top when Lucy Licata (three goals) scored on a free-position shot with 8:51 left. Derryfield went into a stall after that, and they killed almost five minutes off the clock before Hopkinton goalie Elizabeth Berliner (five saves) came out of her crease to force a turnover. The Hawks found the ground ball and then sophomore Lilia Klingler took it coast-to-coast, scoring with 3:13 left to make it 10-10.

Derryfield went back on top a minute later on a free-position shot from Strong, but Morrall had the answer. She won the next two draws, kept the ball both times and scored twice. The equalizer came with 1:44 left and she netted the game-winner with 1:29 to play after making a spin move to avoid defenders and beating Derryfield goalie Shawna Lesmesrises (eight saves) with a lefty shot.

“I just ran down, rolled and hoped it went in, and it did,” Morrall said.

With the dream back in their control, the Hawks found the energy to run out the final minute without giving Derryfield a chance to tie. And they had plenty of energy to run onto the field, mob Berliner in the goal and celebrate their dream when the final horn sounded.

“This was the goal, this was it,” Morrall said. “This is all that matters.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)




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