If Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” wasn’t drowning out the exuberance on the bus ride home for the Acton-Boxboro boys’ lacrosse team, it certainly should’ve been.
Playing one of the toughest schedules in the state, the Colonials were faced with a mountain to scale seemingly every week. Yet time and time again, the team proved most peaks simply not high enough, posting a 6-2 mark against Top-10 opposition this season.
In easily the biggest hurdle of them all on Saturday night at Boston University, Acton-Boxboro stunned powerhouse Duxbury, 5-4, in double overtime to claim the program’s first Division 1 state title.
Ironically, the Colonials (21-3) owe a bit of their success to the coach of the team they beat to reach the final — Lincoln-Sudbury’s Brian Vona.
“We haven’t had the toughest schedule in years past,” said Acton-Boxboro coach Pat Ammendolia. “So before the season, close friend and mentor Brian Vona called me and said, ‘I’m telling you as a friend. You need to beef up your schedule.’
“Looks like his recommendations paid off.”
Early goals by Niall Dillon and Shayne O’Brien staked the Green Dragons (19-4) to a 2-1 lead at the half.
However, the Colonials responded by outscoring Duxbury, 3-2, in the second half, treating the raucous crowd at Nickerson Field to overtime.
That set the stage for Christopher Wiggins (two goals, one assist), whose dodge-and-strike with 1:05 remaining in the second overtime will surely go down in school history.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” the senior midfielder admitted. “But to [win the state title] against Duxbury — an incredible program — is pretty amazing. Just an overall great game.”
Wiggins may get all the glory, but the unsung hero Saturday night — and for Acton-Boxboro’s entire postseason run — was the defense.
After conceding 29 goals in the final two regular-season games, the unit buckled down in the postseason, allowing just 20 goals in four contests.
The Colonials’ long poles suffocated and frustrated the Dragons offense all game, limiting the unit to its lowest scoring output of the season. Even those four goals took every ounce of effort from the Duxbury attackmen.
But in overtime, when both squads were playing for everything, Acton-Boxboro held the Dragons to nothing.
“They’re battle tested, they’ve been here before,” said Ammendolia. “The [defense] knew Duxbury’s tendencies and what they like to do. The kids went out knowing that and defended it very well.”