Boys’ lacrosse: Hopkinton stuns Bow in overtime, hands Falcons first loss of the season in Division III semifinal

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 06-08-2023 10:35 PM

LACONIA – The wheels appeared to be falling off for the No. 1 Bow High boys’ lacrosse team. Hopkinton’s Patrick Buss had just scored his second goal of Wednesday night’s Division III semifinal game to give the No. 5 Hawks a 10-7 lead with 5:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons – who entered the semifinal 15-0 – had never quite had their backs against the wall like this, and some of that pressure showed. Errant passes led to silly turnovers, and Hopkinton players occasionally broke free in front of the cage for easy scoring chances.

But just five seconds of game time after the Hawks took a three-goal lead, Bow’s Hollis Jones scored to make it 10-8. With 3:52 remaining, Brodie O’Neil found the back of the net to make it 10-9, and Ryan McCabe netted the equalizer with 1:10 to go in regulation. The Falcons seemed to have all the momentum.

Hopkinton (12-5) controlled possession the entire OT period, as the Hawks methodically worked the ball around the field. Martel capped off a stellar evening with his sixth goal of the game to win it, 11-10, for Hopkinton and punch his team’s ticket to Sunday’s championship game against No. 2 Campbell (15-2).

“(Martel) was doing stuff I’d never seen him do today,” Hopkinton head coach Deacon Blue said. “He was drawing his defender out to check him, baiting him a little bit, and then he got a hard step on him.

“He’s deceptively fast. He’s such a big guy; he’s got such a huge stride. He got in there. He got really good shots. He was listening to us about bounce shots, which made us really happy, and we knew it’d get by their goalie, and it did.”

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Bow and Hopkinton met twice during the regular season. The Falcons won both matchups, 10-2 and 8-4.

“There was no way we were going to let them beat us three times like that,” Blue said. “Going in, we knew their habits, we knew they were confident, we knew they do the same thing. We’ve been on a big roll lately. We changed some things up late in the season that they didn’t know about I think and just went hard, out-hustled them and had a great win.”

For the Falcons, the loss hurls a stark duality at the players. The 2023 campaign was a remarkable turnaround after finishing last season 2-12, but this group also had aspirations of winning a championship. To have that cut off, in overtime, so close to their goal only makes it more agonizing.

“I think we got to see how hard it is to win a championship,” head coach Devin Calkins said. “Getting over the hump is hard. Winning is hard. Winning a championship is even harder, so I think they got to see exactly what it takes to get there.”

The loss marks the end to the careers of six seniors: Jones, Ben Berube, Owen Walton, Owen Guertin, Patrick Wachsmuth and Canyon Batchelder. And while they might not be able to leave the program with a championship, they leave behind a program that’s in exponentially better shape than it was when they arrived. On some level, that’s all a head coach can ask for.

“Wins were hard to come by for these guys last year. They didn’t take any win for granted all season,” Calkins said. “They really enjoyed every second of it, and to go 2-12 last year and then only lose one game this year is an awesome turnaround, and I give a lot of credit to our seniors. We had an unreal group. Six senior leaders that carried us this entire way. I have nothing but love for those guys and this entire group.”

And for the Hawks, Sunday will be their opportunity to wrap up their 2023 season on the highest of highs. After starting the season 5-5, Hopkinton’s now won seven in a row. The last team that stands in its way is a Campbell program that shut out Pelham, 8-0, in its semifinal contest.

Expect Sunday’s game to provide the Cougars with a much tougher test.

“I think the guys really have good energy right now, and we’re rolling,” Blue said. “I don’t think anyone’s going to stop us right now.”

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