WALTHAM — The best outcome, Chris Kristian admits, would have been a tie.
But there was a clear winner in the gold medal game of the girls’ lacrosse competition at the annual Bay State Summer Games, with Taylor Graf charging down the right wing and bouncing the ball past Southeast goalie Cat Andrade with 30 seconds remaining, the clincher in a 10-9 victory for the Coastal squad last Friday afternoon at the Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex in Waltham.
Kristian was at the helm of the unbeaten Coastal (4-0) squad. But he also doubled as the head coach of the silver medalist Southeast team, which finished 1-3.
“It was bittersweet; I didn’t want to be the head coach that beat the Southeastern team,” he said. “I was happy for Coastal, but at the same time, it would’ve been nice for Southeastern to win.”
With a new format this year that involved regional tryout sites, the Metro area, covering Boston and nearby communities, was left without a facility or a coach, so it was booked to share a building with Kristian, in his second year volunteering as a coach at the Bay State Games, and the Southeast-Coastal squad in Hanover.
One candidate registered for the Metro squad,and she never made it to practice. But the Southeast-Coastal squad attracted so many players that it was divided into two teams.
Hayley Baker, a rising junior at Braintree High who plays attack, attended the first day of tryouts, when she was told that the rules had changed and players who were high school seniors this spring could still participate in the Bay State Games.
Her first move was to tell her older sister, Blayne, a recent graduate of Archbishop Williams. The two had not played on the same team since youth lacrosse, when Blayne was in sixth grade and Hayley was in fourth.
“I thought I was going to be too old,” Blayne said. “It was kind of Hayley’s thing now after I did it for four years, but they said I could play so Hayley’s like, ‘OK Blayne, I guess you’re coming with me now.’ ”
The elder Baker, a defender bound for Clarkson University, is the 10th person in her family to attend Archie’s. But her younger sister never wanted to continue the tradition.
Hayley considers herself more people-oriented than her sister and wanted to go to a bigger school, with more opportunities in athletics. Plus, she saw the private school’s dress code as a deal-breaker because she values expressing herself through her clothing choices.
Distance has led to trivial fights over friends, clothes, and boys, but Hayley said she and her sister are still best buddies.
The “dynamic duo,’’ as they refer to themselves, reunited as teammates in Coastal’s 12-7 win over Southeast last Wednesday. But they didn’t connect much, since they play at opposite ends of the field.
Kristian was on the Southeast bench this time, while assistant Melsie Gaignard, the varsity girls’ lacrosse coach at Plymouth North High, stepped in to lead the Coastal team.
As in the tournament’s finale, the opposing sides employed the same Navy motion offense and ran identical plays, making the game’s outcome a matter of execution.
“I’ve never seen it,” Blayne said. “It’s so funny because we have the same plays, same offense, everything. It’s really fun though, it’s kind of like a civil war.”
Hayley said the competition started out with giggles. But once one of her teammates was called out for violating a rule by wearing body jewelry during the game, she said, her side realized it was time to “go for blood,” and take the game seriously.
Devyn Koch, a rising senior at Hanover High who plays center/attack, scored two goals for Southeast in the tournament’s final game. She was sporting a doctor-recommended knee brace; she tore an anterior cruciate ligament last summer in a Mass Elite lacrosse game against the Long Island Yellow Jackets, and said she feels lucky to be playing after the injury.
“I have a few sore bumps every now and then,” Koch said, “but as a whole, I’m doing much better.”
Koch said her second run in the Bay State Games went well and met expectations, especially since Southeast often had an incomplete roster at practices with girls having prior commitments.
The Southeast group also faced the hurdle of youth, having only two seniors compared with six for Coastal.
“It’s youth and enthusiasm vs. age and experience,” said Kristian, who, in addition to coaching youth lacrosse, has also coached men’s rugby (Norwich University) and football (Abington High). “The Coastal team has depth and a lot of talent, they’re more mature, they’ve been in a lot of similar situations and they just wanted it. It showed in the end.”
His wife, Martha, was the girls’ lacrosse coach at Hanover High two years ago, and Kristian said exposure to her team is how he learned the girls’ game.
“I love coaching,” Kristian said. “It’s my hobby. It’s an expensive one, though, because right now I’m skipping work to be here.”
Hanover High was well represented in the competition, with 14 girls spread between the two rosters (eight suited up with the Baker sisters), including senior captain-elect Emma Stone.
But when time expired in the championship game, there was one thing on Blayne Baker’s mind — finding her little sister.
“I was looking for her; I don’t think she was looking for me,” Blayne said. “As a big sister, I wanted to see how she reacted. She went straight to the team; she’s the more social one.”
After the sisters met amid the celebrations on the field, they posed for a picture, both holding up one finger to mark their team’s finish.
Hayley said the immediate postgame reaction was “unreal,” and was made more special because she didn’t think about winning gold with her sister beforehand.
She added that the championship would likely be dinner conversation for weeks to come.
“It was the perfect way to end it,” she said. “In a weird way, it’s a sendoff for me and Blayne because it was the first and last time we played together. It’s a great feeling that we won it together.”