Do you like surprises? Then you have to love the spring season. When a No. 10 seed with a losing record enters the baseball tournament and ends up with a state championship, you know it’s the spring. Take a group of seniors who have already graduated, stick them on a field, and anything can happen. That’s what makes the spring so unpredictable ... and fun. This season was the swan song for some of the state’s great student-athletes, such as Matt Montalto, Rebecca Robinson, Donovan Henry, Lexi Gifford, and Casey DeAndrade. For all those reasons and more, the spring produced sweet memories. Following, in no particular order, are 10 stories that stood out among countless highlights.
1. Cambridge win best of season
The most surprising result of the entire spring didn’t happen outdoors. It occurred at Babson College in the boys’ volleyball final between unbeaten Milford and Cambridge. Milford entered the state final at 22-0, having not lost a game since April 24. Despite being 21-3, Cambridge was definitely the underdog. So when the Falcons had Milford down, 2-0, it seemed the upset of the season was unfolding. And it did happen, though the Scarlet Hawks came back to tie the match at 2-2 before losing game 5, 15-12. ‘‘I'm never going to forget this,’’ said coach Kelley Leary. Neither will anyone in attendance that night.
2. Girls’ golf: mix and matches
As always, the MIAA girls’ individual golf championships is a strange mix of seasons. There are the girls who play on spring teams, along with girls who play on boys’ teams in the fall. The result is Page 4 of this section. For some girls, like Notre Dame of Hingham’s Lauren Flynn, Aimee Dubois, and Emily LaFond, All-Scholastics is the reward for an almost three-month season. For others, like individual champion Isabel Southard of Sharon, it’s a reward for one round of golf. But that’s not entirely accurate. Southard was the Hockomock League MVP in the fall and earned that honor competing against some of the best boys in the state.
3. Duxbury meets expectations
When you have 12 Division 1 college recruits and you enter a season with eight state championships already in the school trophy case, expectations can be as difficult to beat as any opponent. ‘‘We were supposed to win,’’ said Sam Sweet, son of coach Chris. ‘‘And luckily we did. We said before, if we lose, this season is a failure.’’ That’s tough, but understandable when you’re talking Duxbury lacrosse. The Green Dragons won their ninth title with a 10-8 win over Needham. Sam scored three goals, and the talented roster of future college stars did their jobs. And even with the graduation losses, guess who’s expected to win next spring?
4. Shaky start, great finish for Westwood
Do you remember how you felt back in early April when you saw the score, Lincoln-Sudbury 13, Westwood 12? Maybe, just maybe, the Wolverines would surrender control of the girls' EMass Division 1 lacrosse title, something that’s happened just once in the past four years. But fast-forward to June and there was Westwood beating L-S, 11-9, in the EMass final, followed by a 20-6 win over Algonquin for the Wolverines’ fourth title in five years. ‘‘I think just from the seniors’ perspective, it’s our last game, no regrets, leave everything on the field,’’ said midfielder Laura McHoul. With seven goals in the title game, mission accomplished.
5. Net results for DCL tennis powers
Friday, June 15, was a beautiful day for tennis, especially if you were from the Dual County League. In Division 1, Acton-Boxboro completed a 19-2 season by beating Westboro in the girls’ tennis state final. Down the road, Bedford was doing the same, beating Bromfield for the Division 3 crown. ‘‘The Dual County League is one of the strongest in the state,’’ said Bedford coach Monika Drabkova, whose team went 9-7 in the regular season. ‘‘It can be a little discouraging at times because we are playing really tough opponents, but it definitely gets us ready for the states.’’ And for the record, Friday’s results weren’t a fluke. Concord-Carlisle won the Division 2 girls title and Wayland the Division 2 boys crown earlier that week.
6. Xaverian king of the postseason
The last time the Hawks turned a mediocre regular season into an amazing postseason run was 2010. But that year, the 10-10 regular season, followed by five straight tournament wins, ended with a loss to Amherst in the state final. But this year, it was a happy ending for Xaverian. The Catholic Conference’s fourth-place team checked into the Division 1 South tournament at 12-8 then won six straight, ending with a win over Algonquin in the state championship. ‘‘It’s unbelievable, because coming from 2010, me, Tim [Duggan] and Ty [Campo] were itching to get back here,’’ said Chris Hoyt, who had four RBIs in the title game.
7. Forbes jumps into history books
With college coaches lined up watching, and the attention of a national audience, Newton North junior Carla Forbes won not one, but two outdoor track titles at the New Balance National Championships in North Carolina. On Friday it was the triple jump, in a New England record 42 feet, 9 1/2 inches. And on Saturday it was the long jump, in 19-9 1/2. ‘‘It just absolutely amazes me that she keeps pulling this off,’’ said Newton North track coach Joe Tranchita. Forbes pulled off the same double at the All-State meet, but at nationals the pressure was far greater. And the triple jump title was her second this year after she won the same event at the indoor nationals. Amazing, and with a year of high school remaining.
8. Frank discussion about winning baseball
If you’re keeping track at home, make that 697 career wins. When Frank Carey started coaching 47 years ago there was no discussion of BBCOR bats, no Gatorade baths after big wins (the drink was invented in 1965). But the basics of the game remain the same and this spring North Reading had just enough hitting, combined with strong pitching, to win a Division 3 state title, Carey’s fifth. ‘‘You’ve got to be lucky and you’ve got to be good to be the state champion,’’ Carey said. ‘‘We were both this year.’’ A six-run second inning against Mount Everett and Ryley Warnock’s 4„ innings of relief were the difference for the Hornets.
9. Welcome mat out for Milford
When Caroline Fairbanks crossed home plate with the winning run in the Division 1 state softball championship, she was also putting the exclamation point on Milford’s last official softball game as a Central Mass. high school. Next year Milford joins the Hockomock League, which means we’ll all get to see Shannon Smith’s amazing right arm on a regular basis. It wasn’t long after Milford beat Malden, 1-0, that a caller to the Globe said of Smith, ‘‘There’s your Division 1 Player of the Year next spring.’’ The Kentucky bound Smith struck out 22 Malden hitters, including 10 straight at one point. Look out Hockomock. Here comes Shannon.
10. Football: A sport for all seasons
What started in the fall, was debated in the winter, and voted on (sort of) in the spring? That would be the plan for a new state-wide football playoff system. For lovers of Robert’s Rules of order and long meetings, it was a fun ride, one that will end with a vote of MIAA-member schools this October. For football fans, it was a frustrating, hair-pulling, are-you-kidding-me exercise in how committees can ruin a perfectly good idea. In 2010 a much different plan was voted down. While we all ponder democrat vs. republican in the months ahead, principals will consider whether to give the state what every other sport has, a real state championship.