Girls’ lacrosse season recap: Bow takes home D-III championship, other D-III area teams impress

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 06-12-2023 9:23 PM

No team dominated from start to finish this season quite like Bow girls’ lacrosse. The Falcons finished 18-1, defeating St. Thomas, 20-6, for the Division III championship. Bow’s average margin of victory across its three playoff games: 15 goals.

For the season, the Falcons outscored opponents 334-86 over their 19 games. 

“This team will go down as one of my best teams,” head coach Chris Raabe said after the championship win, wrapping up her 24th season in this role. “They all care about each other. They’re all friends. There’s no drama. There’s no cliqueness. They’ll sit with any of the 25 (other players). They care more about one another than they do about themselves.”

The Falcons will lose some talent heading into next season, though. Senior Alex Larrabee, who will continue her lacrosse career at Colgate next year, departs after a storied career for Bow. The program also loses goalie Elena Roy, Lyndsey and Bella LaPerle, and Marissa Green.

One of the teams Bow beat en route to its championship was Concord Christian Academy, which wrapped up a phenomenal inaugural season in the D-III semifinals. A record of 12-5 including a win over the defending champions, Hopkinton, in the quarterfinals, sets up CCA’s program for an immensely bright future.

Head coach Janine Muir only loses two seniors from the roster – Taylor Rioux and Lauren Winans. The rest of the group plans on continuing to refine their lacrosse skills through summer and winter leagues.

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Having this playoff experience should only help.

“We were really proud to get this far,” Muir said after the Bow loss. “We had a really good contest against Hopkinton on Thursday. They were a fantastic competitor and a good, clean game, so that was a really fun win. Then coming into this, we were just excited to get to the semis. To be here was awesome.”

The Hawks quest for a title defense came to an end at the hands of CCA in that 17-13 loss at home. After starting the season under new co-head coaches Gus Madden and Bob Brown with a 3-3 record, Hopkinton rode an eight-game winning streak into the quarterfinals. That momentum wasn’t enough to push the Hawks in the semifinals against a team they beat, 18-10, just a few weeks prior.

2023 was the first time since 2017 that Hopkinton did not reach the Division III championship game. More than a concern about the state of the program though, it speaks to the growing depth of the division, with a team like CCA becoming a worthy opponent.

“Concord Christian came to play,” Madden said after the loss. “After our first year (as coaches), we’ll be ready to hit the ground running. I’m really proud of all our players and all the hard work they put in this year. They’re a really fun team, they had great team spirit and attitude and they played some beautiful lacrosse this year.”

No. 9 Kearsarge and No. 11 Bishop Brady both came up short in their opening round matchups of the D-III playoffs. The Cougars lost to No. 8 Derryfield, 15-7, finishing the season 7-9. The Giants lost to No. 6 Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough, 17-5, to finish the season at 5-11.

Meanwhile, Coe-Brown narrowly missed out on the playoffs because of tiebreakers, finishing the season at 5-10. The Bears started the year 2-7, before going 3-3 over their final six games. The late-season recovery just wasn’t quite enough to qualify for postseason play.

One area of optimism moving forward, though, is goalie Alexis Muse.

“Alexis is a really important part of the team,” Coe-Brown head coach Kristin Cimino said after a regular season loss to Bow in early May. “She makes some really great stops. She’s vocal. She's a sophomore. I look forward to the next couple years with her. … I can't say enough about her play and what she does for us.”

In Division II, John Stark/Hillsboro-Deering rebounded from a rough 3-6 start to the season to qualify for the playoffs as the No. 9 seed and beat Merrimack Valley in the first round, 12-11. 

Although the General Cats (8-8) suffered a lopsided 21-1 loss to No. 1 Hanover in the quarterfinals, that doesn’t take away from the strong late-season turnaround, spearheaded in part by the play of Kaycie Rhodes and Riley Davis who combined for 10 goals in the win over MV.

“That is not abnormal,” head coach Samantha Weaver said after the playoff win. “They just both can make their shot out of nothing. You're like, ‘Why're you taking that shot?’ and all of a sudden they get off some random shot, and it hits the back corner of the net. They're so dynamic and super speedy and can change their speed on the dime.”

Merrimack Valley’s season came to an end with the 12-11 loss to the General Cats in the first round of the playoffs. Finishing the season 8-7, it was a major turnaround for head coach Kylee Yam in her second season leading the program.

Following up a 2-12 campaign, the Pride demonstrated tremendous improvement, notably in their composure and patience on the field.

“From day one to now, they’ve changed hugely,” Yam said after the loss to John Stark/Hillsboro-Deering. “We learned how to communicate on defense, we learned how to transition, we learned to relax on attack and wait for the right moment instead of forcing it all the time which really helped. I think what I'll remember most is the major improvement from all the girls.”

Meanwhile, Pembroke currently finds itself in a similar situation to what MV faced this time last year. Coming off a 2-13 season, first-year head coach Sarah Jackes can hope that the two wins the Spartans picked up in the final two weeks of the season can serve as a springboard into next season.

“It’s not easy to be playing in some of these games when the score is so lopsided,” Jackes said after Pembroke lost to MV 14-1 in mid April. “But they’re keeping their positivity, (and) they’re keeping their heads up.”

In Division I, it was a challenging season for the Concord Crimson Tide who finished the year 4-13, tied for 10th in the standings.

The Tide did fare better in the final six games, going 3-3, but it wasn’t enough to qualify for the postseason.

Head coach Terry Anderson returned to the program this season after retiring from the same role following the 2012 campaign. While the spring didn’t transpire as he would’ve liked, it wasn’t because of a lack of effort from his players.

“It’s a wonderful team,” he said after Concord lost to Bishop Guertin on May 12. “They’re a great group of girls. They work hard at practice. They give it their best in games, and I think you can’t ask for more other than executing a little bit better at times. It’s been a real pleasure to be around them.”

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