Tears welling in his eyes, cheeks flushed, unable to utter a word; John Isaf had just received the Father’s Day gift of a lifetime.
He had coached his son Jack, and most of the Medfield High lacrosse team’s 20 seniors, since fourth grade. He witnessed them grow into fine players and admirable young men. Now they were walking off Boston University’s Nickerson Field as Division 2 state champions Saturday afternoon, putting an end to a special era.
“I’ve always tried to treat them all as my sons,” said Isaf, whose squad beat Hingham, 13-6, for its sixth state title. “They’re just good kids and they’ve always been passionate about lacrosse, they’ve always been responsive to me as their coach and I just wanted to see them have success together. I couldn’t ask for a better Father’s Day gift.”
Tallying an assist in his final game playing for his father, Jack Isaf relished the moment as well, it was one he had been hoping to experience for nearly half of his life.
“It’s rewarding to have your dad there on the sidelines with all your friends, just sharing that experience,” said the Ithaca-bound attack, who was the Warriors’ second-leading scorer this spring.
“This is all we’ve talked about for the past eight years — the goal to win it together as this large class of seniors — so it’s a dream come true.”
Jack was a freshman, and his father an assistant coach, on the school’s 2011 state title team. They made a trip back to the final game last year, only to fall to Longmeadow, 10-7, but this season, the Warriors (23-2) breezed through the playoffs, doubling up every team they faced.
They were one of two teams in the state, along with Division 1 Duxbury, to hold every opponent under 10 goals. Tufts-bound goalie Robert Treiber — one of the team’s five All-Americans — credits his spectacular Williams-bound face-off specialist, Brian Bissell (82 percent in the circle), along with a stellar defense.
“The D just made my job easy, the way they drive people down,” said the 6-foot-2 netminder. “I can’t speak to how thankful I am to have had those guys in front of me. We had so many weapons . . . just such a complete team, which I don’t think you see too often.”
Despite losing 20 graduates, Isaf expects a complete team next year, as he anticipates about 20 veterans to return, including All-American midfielder John Mac-Lean, who led Medfield in scoring this spring as a sophomore with 72 points. “Obviously we’ve got some holes in leadership to replace, but I have confidence,” said Isaf. “Year in and year out I think Medfield lacrosse always finds the pieces to put in place to be a contender, and I would expect nothing less from these guys next year.”
Acton-Boxborough tops Duxbury with defense
As soon as Medfield left the Nickerson Field sideline after its victory, the Acton-Boxborough Regional boys took their place, facing Duxbury in the Division 1 state final.
After playing its toughest regular-season schedule in recent memory, the battle-tested Colonials (21-3) matched the toughest defensive team in the state shot-for-shot into the second overtime period, when senior midfielder Christopher Wiggins (a Bentley commit) came out as the hero by notching the game-winning goal for Acton-Boxborough.
“We had a very good scout on them, we knew their personnel,’’ and their tendencies, said coach Pat Ammendolia, who called the 5-4 victory his team’s best defensive effort of the year. “The kids just went out there and executed the game plan and we won.”
After giving up 29 goals in its final two regular-season games, the Colonials allowed only 20 throughout four tournament matches, which Ammendolia credits to his defense and junior goalie Sean Crimmins.
“He was phenomenal’’ in the sectional final against Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, said the seventh-year head coach. “You need good goaltending in a playoff run like this, and oh my God did he play well.”
Next spring, Acton-Boxborough will return Crimmins in net, All-American midfielder J.T. Kelly, and a deep defensive unit, though the team will have holes to fill, with the graduating seniors including 100-point scorer Hunter Arnold (an All-American heading to Keene State) and a few other key offensive assets.
Bromfield School girls’ squad falls in Division 2 state final
The Bromfield School girls will be set on offense for years to come, thanks to the presence of state scoring leader Sophia Turchetta. The sophomore midfielder netted the first five goals for the Trojans in its Division 2 state title game on Saturday; the offense stalled in the second half, however, and the team from Harvard fell to Newburyport, 7-6.
Despite the loss, coach Dave Planchet couldn’t have been prouder following the game, noting that Bromfield (21-2) had never even made it past the sectional quarterfinals prior to this year.
“If someone rewound the clock three months ago in early March, I would’ve never have dreamed that we would go this far,” said Planchet. “Not only did we have a young team, but we had a lot of first-year players who have just come so far.”
The first-year coach also cherished the opportunity to coach his daughter, Jackie, a senior who will join the Keene State lacrosse program next year. While Turchetta stole the show as the scoring machine (169 goals), Jackie Planchet served as the quarterback this spring, tallying 51 assists, and enjoying every moment of her captaincy.
“This season — compared to past seasons — I have wanted to go to practice every day,” said Jackie,who scored the final goal (her 77th) of the season for the Trojans. “In the past you’d have a couple of those rainy days when you just want to go home and relax, but having him as the coach and having positive reinforcement throughout the practices made it that much more enjoyable for everyone.”
Planchet said he plans to return as coach next year, and hopes to be there when his younger daughter, rising sixth-grader Isabelle, reaches varsity. He says the future looks bright for the squad, which is losing just five seniors to graduation, and of course will return Turchetta, who already has 467 career points, for her junior year.
Dover-Sherborn boys can’t catch Cohasset
Like the Trojans, the Dover-Sherborn High boys’ team also suffered a heartbreaking one-goal loss in its final match.
Trailing 8-3 at the half in the Division 3 state title game, the two-time defending state champion Raiders stormed back to cut the deficit to one, but lost, 10-9, at the hands of Cohasset.
Dover-Sherborn (18-4) allowed 10 or more goals only once this spring, against the same squad, giving up 12 in losing to the Skippers on April 7.
Behind a stellar defensive line, junior goalie Jack Fontaine did an admirable job this season, stepping into some big shoes. He follows a line of three consecutive All-American netminders, in Ryan Goodall, Jeff Williams, and Garrett Akie.
Dover-Sherborn loses just five seniors for next season, though four of them served as defensive captains. On offense they are projected to bring back two 80-point-scoring All-Americans: freshman University of North Carolina recruit Bailey Laidman (56 goals), and junior Boston University commit Grant Gregory (49 goals).
“Offensively we’ll return quite a few players; defensively we’ll be asking some kids to step up,” said coach Brian McLaughlin, who pioneered the varsity program in the late 1990s. Fontaine “will be a senior next year and can be the leader of the defense, instructing the kids where to go, so that will be good.”