The Westwood High girls’ lacrosse program has reeled off unbeaten and untied runs through the regular season twice in the past four years. The Wolverines have captured two Division 1 state titles in the same time frame.
But it has been an either/or proposition. Neither of the undefeated teams completed their run with a championship.
On Saturday, the Westwood girls, 23-0 under the direction of Leslie Frank , have an opportunity to complete their perfect season in the Division 1 state final at Boston University. They will take on the winner of Tuesday’s Frankin-Longmeadow semifinal.
A quick review: A year ago, 22-0 Westwood was denied by Notre Dame Academy of Hingham in the South final; in 2010, the 23-0 Wolverines lost to Framingham in the state semis.
“It’s a big relief,” Westwood captain Jamison O’Neill said of reaching Saturday’s final. “When we went into our junior year and lost, we weren’t used to losing and that’s been our drive this year. We kept pushing and pushing.”
Notre Dame once again had plenty of push.
In Friday’s Division 1 South final, the Cougars jumped out to a 3-0 lead, forcing Frank to call a timeout. She calmed her team down and then watched the Wolverines roar back, ultimately claiming an 11-9 victory.
With Frank’s daughter, Meredith , on the NDA sideline, there is great familiarity between the two programs.
“We know exactly what they are going to do and they know us,” captain Kim Egizi said.
Frank said that forced her team to take their game to a new level.
“Their skill level and their intensity fires you up and that can be a good thing,” she said. “You have to credit them with getting us to the next step.”
In Monday’s state semifinal, North Andover lacked familiarity with Westwood’s aggressive defense and it showed, as the North champion struggled to move the ball toward the net.
“They pressure high on D and not many teams do that in high school,” North Andover coach Meredith Prior said. “It’s a very good strategy and they do it well. I think our girls got a little psyched out at first.”
Monday night, one of the loudest cheers from the Westwood faithful came when senior defender Celia Condrick raced back and knocked the ball free from a seemingly uncatchable North Andover player running in transition. A track star in the offseason, Condrick previously took on the responsibility of shutting down NDA’s Charlotte Allard in the South final.
At the other end of the field, junior Brooke Troy has developed into a consistent scoring threat. Sometimes overshadowed by captain Ela Hazar and Egizi — who are headed to the University of North Carolina and Richmond, respectively — Troy delivered four goals in the 14-4 win.
She also scored four goals against NDA, including the game-tying tally with 3:15 left.
“She is a competitor,” Leslie Frank said. “Despite being out for a week with a foot injury, she has wanted [to win] every game and she inspires her teammates.
“She gets mad when she misses a shot or shoots it right to the goalie, and she gets it right back and I love that competitiveness.”
The Wolverines have worked all season for payback after last year’s ouster against NDA. Now they find themselves one win away from perfection.
Norwell tripped up
The Norwell High girls entered Monday’s state semifinal against Newburyport with similar dreams. But the defending Division 2 champs, ahead 6-4 at the half, could not hold their advantage after losing senior defender Katie Reardon to disqualification (two yellow cards in the first half), falling, 11-9.
“It was just a tough game overall in every aspect — offense, defense, and midfield — for us,” Norwell coach Kara Connerty said. “Today just wasn’t our game; we just did not come determined enough to get it done.”
Still, Connerty labeled the season a success after winning South Shore League and Division 2 South titles.
After graduating most of the core of last year’s state championship squad, the Clippers leaned heavily on Caroline Walsh this season. Monday, she cleanly won the opening draw and went on to score four goals, including Norwell’s final goal, an eight-meter attempt with just over two minutes left.
She rifled in eight goals in a 14-9 South final win over Apponequet after posting the same number in a 20-8 South semifinal win over Scituate. The junior midfielder, who has committed to Holy Cross, finished her season with 86 goals.
Sophomore Stephanie Croke emerged as another strong offensive option for the Clippers. She went down with a knee injury midway through an early May game against Medfield — Norwell’s only loss to a Division 2 team before Monday —and missed nine games. She still was not 100 percent healthy for tournament play. Wearing a knee brace and shifting from the midfield to attack, she still contributed, knifing through the defense for a goal Monday after scoring twice in the South final.
“In the South run we had strong performances,” Connerty said. “Winning a South title, the kids have something to be proud of.”
Giant steps made
Matt Demetrio and Laura Magno have been at the helm of the boys’ and girls’ programs at Apponequet Regional for just one season. But their respective programs have already made great strides.
In their fourth varsity season, the Laker girls beat Fairhaven in the Division 2 South quarterfinals before squeaking by Cohasset, 10-9, in the semifinals. Their season ended against Norwell in the South final, but their play elicited praise from Clippers coach Kara Connerty.
“They were very determined and competitive,” Connerty said. “They came to play.”
The boys’ program took an even bigger leap this season. Demetrio said his goal this year was to help the team win its first playoff game.
The Laker boys beat Whitman-Hanson, 11-4, then beat Sandwich and Falmouth to reach the Division 2 South final before losing to Hingham, 17-3.
“With the amount of athletes we have, I see potential for great things, but that was all supposed to be down the line. We weren’t expecting too much out of the first year,” Demetrio said.
“We will try to do things like every major lacrosse town and put our system down in youth level so U9’s and U11’S will know what we are doing by the time they get to the high school level,” Demetrio said. “Then we’ll be making runs for state championships.”
The Archbishop Williams boys carried a 17-game winning streak into Saturday’s Division 3 South final before losing to Cohasset, 13-7. The Bishops (22-2) averaged an Eastern Mass.-leading 14.46 goals per game.Jacob Feldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.