The 2013 lacrosse season was certainly an eventful one for high school programs south of Boston, with no shortage of thrills, drama, or disappointment.
Xaverian Brothers and Notre Dame of Hingham hoisted state championship plaques for the first time. A pair of two-time defending champions, the Duxbury High boys and the Westwood High girls, were denied any shot at a repeat with tourney exits a bit earlier than anyone expected.
Here are five story lines that emerged during the tournament:
Xaverian’s Driscoll returns
The Hawks’ lone captain, and leading goal scorer from a year ago, Liam Driscoll missed the entire regular season with a broken foot. But the senior middie suited up for the tournament and helped propel Xaverian to the Division 1 East title.
Even though he only found the back of the net once — against Westford Academy in the first round — he was mostly just happy to be back on the field, playing on the second midfield line with two of his classmates, Harry Walsh and Eric Hoffman .
“At first it felt like it wasn’t even real life,” Driscoll said. “To finally do it on the big stage after overcoming a lot this season and being out for so long . . . I couldn’t ask for a better way to end it. It was spectacular — unbelievable.”
Returning to action was hardly easy. Between nerves and the sometimes unbearable pain from the screw in his left foot, he occasionally got sick before games.
In the end, though, it was worth it. Driscoll credited his teammates with picking up the slack and silencing doubters while he was out, adding that “a win for the lacrosse team is a win for the Xaverian community.”
The Holy Cross-bound Driscoll also never lost sight of one of the reasons he plays: his cousin, John Driscoll , an All-American at Virginia who starred on Team USA in the 1980s who lost his battle to brain cancer in 2002. The younger Driscoll wears No. 32 in his honor.
“You can even say the state championship was a testament to him and the family,” Driscoll said.
Beaudoin boosts Cohasset
James Beaudoin arrived in Cohasset in March, just a few days before the start of the season. He was the third coach in four seasons for the Clipper seniors.
Three months later, Beaudoin had directed Cohasset to the Division 3 state final at Harvard Stadium, where his club lost to defending champion Dover-Sherborn, 12-10.
Cohasset finished a stellar 17-4 season under the guidance of Beaudoin, formerly the head coach at Proctor Academy, a vast improvement from a 7-12 mark last year.
“There was a learning curve, but lacrosse is lacrosse,” Beaudoin said of the transition from private school coaching to public. “I really enjoyed becoming part of the team.”
Almost immediately, Beaudoin knew he had a talented squad. All it needed was a bit of tweaking.
He shifted senior Nick Tangherlini to the midfield from attack, where he had played the previous three seasons. Junior Colin Whelan moved up to attack.
Those moves helped create a balanced offense, which, combined with a zone defense, contributed to Beaudoin’s philosophy of unselfish play.
For the most part, the systems he instituted were well received.
“What a lot of the kids understood was that it was working,” Beaudoin said.
“Change is tough for everybody, and especially teenage kids. But I think once they realized we were winning . . . the kids did buy into it.”
Dragons’ stunning defeat
Duxbury does not lose.
That is all Sam Friedman knew growing up, and playing lacrosse, in Abington. The Dragons have been the dominant force in the state.
Friedman, a sophomore midfielder at Boston College High, was 4 years old the last time the Dragons failed to advance to the Division 1 state final.
Until this season.
On May 31, Friedman struck for the winning goal in overtime as the 14th-seeded Eagles stunned Duxbury, 10-9. It ended the Dragons’ run of 11 straight appearances in the last game of the season, nine of which they won.
“I thought [the Duxbury program] was amazing,” said Friedman, reflecting on growing up in the area.
“I never though they’d lose, and when they did, it seemed like a mistake or fluke. Part of the reason Duxbury is so good is because people do think that about them.
“Now I have a lot of respect for them; they have a great tradition. The entire state has realized they’re not as invincible as they once were. The rest of the state is catching up to them.”
Cooper was sure in goal
Make no mistake, minus Hanna Cooper , coach Meredith Frank acknowledges, the Notre Dame of Hingham girls would have had a much, much harder time capturing the Division 1 title.
The sophomore goalkeeper starter registered a 6.0 goals-against average and .530 save percentage as the Cougars ran up a 24-2 record and topped Longmeadow, 13-10, to nab the first state crown in program history.
A first-year starter, Cooper played every minute of every game.
“She was absolutely fabulous,” Frank said. “She made saves when we needed saves to be made.”
Frank, who beat her alma mater, Westwood, coached by her mother, Leslie Frank , in the South sectional final, explained that NDA wanted to play with an aggressive defense scheme similar to that of Westwood.
Cooper was key in that transition.
“When the defense and the goalie are on the same page, you can err on the side of aggressiveness,” Frank said. “When you up the pace and change the style of play a little bit, we put a lot of faith on Hanna to make some saves that might be one-on-nones. She did a great job of making the saves we knew she could make, but Hanna also came up with game-changing saves — saves where you’d say, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ ”
Norwood’s Ryan named All-American
June 9, 2013 is a day Allison Ryan will never forget.
Aside from graduating from Norwood High, the senior midfielder also received word, via phone, from coach Caitlin Harrington that she had been named an All-American by US Lacrosse.
She is the first girls’ player from Norwood to garner the honor.
“We were so excited,” Harrington said. “She was through the roof.”
The Mustangs (9-8-2) were eliminated in the first round of the Division 1 South tourney by Franklin, 15-4.
Ryan ended her scholastic career with 361 points (254 goals, 107 assists), by far a program record. She had 84 goals and 29 helpers as a senior.
“It’s been fun to watch her play and see her grow as an athlete,” said Harrington, an assistant at Norwood before taking over as head coach before last season. “I was very fortunate to have such a talented athlete.
“She obviously has a lot of skill. She’s just a great leader. She has the ability to lead well by example, obviously, but she’s also very confident, and she loves the sport. She eats, drinks, and sleeps lacrosse.”
Ryan will play at the University of Massachusetts Amherst next year, where she will be joined by fellow All-American Hannah Murphy (Duxbury).Tim Healey can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.