The situation seemed a bit bleak.
Entering halftime of their nonleague matchup against host Dover-Sherborn Saturday morning, the Walpole High girls’ lacrosse team faced a 6-3 deficit.
In a steady rain shower.
Still, captain Michele Lucas said afterward, the Rebels had not lost their confidence.
Walpole, after all, was riding an eight-game winning streak. And in the second half, the Rebels illustrated why they entered this week having not lost since their first game of the season.
Ten minutes into the half, junior midfielder Meg Sundstrom came from behind the net and scored to put the Rebels on top, 8-6.
“Never shoot like Meg,” a Walpole assistant reminded her team at the time. “Those angles — I don’t know how she does it.”
Senior midfielder Bri Doherty added another tally two minutes later, and used her 6-foot-1 frame to help Walpole dominate draws throughout the second half.
After a big save from goalie Erin LeBlanc in the final two minutes, junior midfielder Molly Lanahan made a key interception to preserve a 10-9 win.
“I think we played a terrific second half in every phase in the game,” Walpole coach Mike Tosone said afterward.
With the win, the trio of Sundstrom, Doherty, and Lanahan had powered Walpole to a 9-1 record and a tournament qualification faster than even those on the team expected.
“Our 9-1 start is a surprise to everyone,” Lanahan said.
The Rebels graduated 13 seniors, including six starters, from last year’s team, which fell to Westwood in the second round of the Division 1 playoffs. The attack was especially affected: Former captains Erin Richardson , Michaela Tosone , and Seana Cofsky contributed almost all of the team’s scoring last year.
That said, Mike Tosone was confident that Sundstrom and Lanahan would be able to pick up the slack.
Both had seen playing time as sophomores last year and excelled on the field hockey team in the fall, a sport Tosone said carries over well to lacrosse.
Sundstrom has tallied 19 goals and 16 assists through 10 games, but Lanahan has been the real breakout star. Her four goals Saturday raised her total to 37 this season. She has two seven-goal games and has been able to keep up her pace despite facing double-teams and face-guarding over the last several games.
Lanahan had a strong performance in the season opener, a loss to Natick, before really exploding against King Philip, accounting for 10 of her team’s 14 points with seven goals and three assists in a 14-10 win.
“I don’t know that we expected her to be this dominant this year, but on the same token we aren’t shocked,” coach Tosone said.
“When she had seven goals and three assists in a close game, at that point we pretty much confirmed in our mind that she’s really special.”
Lanahan stands just 5-foot-2 but has the speed to get by most defenders and a competitive streak that has impressed her coach.
“She’s been a very good athlete since day one,” the coach said, “and as good an athlete as she is, she’s an even better competitor.
“She’s a true warrior — tough as nails.”
Lanahan is not the only competitive spirit on the team, though. Lucas recalled a preseason practice when the team invited alumni back for what was supposed to be a fun scrimmage. It was clear from the get-go, though, that every player was there to win.
“That was very interesting,” Lucas said, laughing.
“We don’t take it lightly on each other. . . . We want to make the play, score the point, or stop them in my case,” the defender said.
Coach Tosone is embracing the team’s aggressiveness. He has his defense playing a more attacking style, and players said they have learned to appreciate the loud voice on the sideline that he attributes to his time as a football coach.
Meanwhile, Tim Drummey , who led the team before handing the reins to Tosone, still focuses on the offense.
“As far as I’m concerned, we’ve both been in it together — regardless of what our titles are — for five years,” Tosone said. “For a lot of people, it would have been a difficult flip, but he made it easy.’’
Together, the two are trying to take advantage of Walpole’s reclassification from Division 1 to Division 2. The 9-1 start has players optimistic.
“The goal going into the season was to make the tournament, but I never thought it would be this soon,” Lucas said. “Now we have a chance, a rare chance that we haven’t had in past years, a good chance that we can go deep.”
Banged-up Hanover boys’ squad
relying on a strong defense
Hanover High boys’ coach Paul Zaylor expected offense to be a focal point this season.
But, with two of his attackmen battling injuries, Zaylor has been forced to rely on his young defense, anchored by sophomore Noah Clapp .
So far, they have been up to the challenge; the Indians entered the week at 6-2.
Clapp, who tallied four shutouts during the hockey season while helping his team reach the Division 3 state championship game, has blanked two more teams this spring. He also limited Quincy and Pembroke to one and two goals, respectively.
“Noah Clapp in goal has been outstanding,” Zaylor said. “I’ve been pleased with the defense overall.”
Hanover’s two losses have been close, too: 6-5 to Hingham and 9-7 to Cohasset. Zaylor said carelessness with the ball cost his players in those matchups, but they played one of their cleanest games yet last week against Division 1 Weymouth. He added that they will need to continue playing cleanly against a tough second-half schedule.
The Indians face Scituate next week and finish their regular season with Duxbury, Bridgewater-Raynham, and Norwell in consecutive games.
NDA tested, and has the answer
Notre Dame Academy coach Meredith Frank had warned her team.
The Cougars had won all of their previous matchups by a comfortable margin. But a close game would come.
On Friday, it did, and captain Isabella O’Connor admitted that many of the players were “shell-shocked” when Longmeadow jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
But NDA battled back to claim a 10-9 win over the same team they beat in last year’s state championship game. Sophomore Charlotte Allard had five goals, including the eventual winner with less than three minutes to play.
“They were out for blood because of what we took away from them last year,” O’Connor said. “We needed a shake to wake us up and I think Longmeadow gave us one.”