WELLESLEY — When the Notre Dame-Hingham girls’ lacrosse team captured the Division 1 state title in 2019, wide-eyed freshman Bela Taylor was grateful to be along for the ride and dreamed about cementing the class of 2022′s legacy in similar fashion.
Taylor was the lone freshman on varsity full time that year along with swing players Kelsey O’Brien and Hannah Evans. This core of current seniors, which also features Raegan White and Amy Stevenson, has dealt with a pandemic in 2020 and a shortened season that ended in disappointment in 2021.
In 2022 — following a decisive 14-1 triumph over Bedford in the Division 2 state final at Babson College on Monday — NDA is back on top and Taylor’s dream has been actualized. The No. 1 Cougars (21-4) built a 5-1 halftime lead and used a stellar second half to pull away from the No. 3 Buccaneers (17-5).
“I couldn’t be more proud of my senior class for buying in wholeheartedly and completely from the very beginning,” NDA coach Meredith McGinnis said.
Freshman Emma Connerty (Hanover) paced the Cougars with four goals, sophomore Siobhan Colin (Canton) and junior Alexa Kenney (Milton) added three each, and Taylor, Reilly Walsh, Jane Hilsabeck, and Evans chipped in one each.
Tufts-bound senior catalyst Allie Zorn scored the lone Bedford goal, and Sophia Morrissey, Gabriela Zovko, and goalie Charlotte Dreyfus also contributed. It was tight for a while, as Zorn’s delivery tied the score at 1 with 16:24 left in the half, but NDA settled into a rhythm and hit its stride.
“I think we looked a little bit discouraged and a little bit fatigued,” McGinnis said. “When we were able to come out with goals in transition, I think it sparked us and our confidence level.”
This was the third state title for the Cougars, who established themselves as the clear favorite in their first season in Division 2 and played to their potential the entire tournament. NDA outscored its opponents 77-11 and was in command in every game.
O’Brien, Ava Orlando, Veronica Taylor, Anna Clair, and White anchored a stellar defensive effort both in this game and throughout the entire season.
“They’re fantastic,” Taylor said. “They’re the rock of our whole team, and we couldn’t do it without them.”
For Bedford, it was a disappointing ending to the best season in program history. The Bucs, who built off making the North finals last spring, became the first Bedford girls’ program in any sport to advance to a state final.
Coach Nicole Lespasio said she hopes her players fondly remember the first 21 games and don’t dwell on this one. They did what they could, and they simply ran into an explosive team.
“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted today, but this was for our town, this was for our league,” Zorn said. “I think we represented everybody really well. That’s what we’re going to remember.”
Trevor Hass can be reached at email@example.com.