Courtesy of Mass Live
BOSTON — If a Longmeadow boys lacrosse fan were to see the halftime score of the State Division II final on their television, they might have changed the channel. The Lancers trailed defending state champion Medfield 11-4 at that point, and that was only because Dominic Santienello ended a four-goal run with a goal of his own in the final minute of the second quarter.
But if they changed the channel, they would have missed an excellent second half from Longmeadow. Sure, the Lancers did not complete their comeback and lost in the state final 16-12.
But the Lancers outscored Medfield 9-5 in the second half, and never quit despite the huge deficit they faced.
“Our kids are competitors,” Longmeadow coach Keith Campbell said. “I think it is glaringly obvious that we have a group of competitors that never let up.”
The comeback started after Longmeadow fell behind 12-4 with a nice goal from Matt DeMarche. Soon after, Kyle Gagne added a goal and then Will Lukas scored two quick ones to make it 12-8. For a team that was just down by eight goals, a four-goal lead seemed manageable.
Medfield fought back though, using goals from Matt Treiber and Jack-Henry Vara to give Medfield a 15-9 lead. Sure enough though, Longmeadow fought back again, with Lukas and Isaac Chase scoring goals to make it 15-12.
“That was the point we realized we really could win this game,” senior defenseman Nick Crews said of the three-goal deficit. “We knew we had a good chance of coming back at that point going on a run — we’re a huge momentum based team.”
Longmeadow had an opportunity to bring the lead to two goals multiple times, but Medfield goalie Kyle Gately made a number of key saves in the second half to keep the Lancers at bay. Gately finished the game with 10 saves.
“Kyle Gately is a great kid, I know him very well,” Campbell said. “He did a great job at the end.”
Part of the reason why Longmeadow was able to get so many more offensive chances in the second half was a shift in its defensive strategy. The Lancers shifted into a zone defense, which led to more pressure from behind and a few extra turnovers. With Vara winning the majority of the faceoffs, the change in defense gave Longmeadow several more possessions.
“We knew that we were going to lose the draws, we were just going to have Max (Stukalin) fight him and take it away,” Campbell said. “He might have lost all of the faceoffs, but it was more than 50-50 our way after the faceoff.”
Longmeadow scored so many goals so quickly in part because a lot of its offense came in transition. That was part of the gameplan for the Lancers from the beginning, and it meant Stukalin (two goals) and Lukas (four goals) were the go-to players on offense.
The comeback did not pan out for Longmeadow in the end, and a look back at this game in the history books will just show the loss. But winning the second half in convincing fashion says a lot about the character of Longmeadow.
“We believe that if we put our full effort in that it will come out the way we want it to,” Senior defender Dan Cotnoir said. “Going down 4-0 is obviously a tough thing to come back from, but it’s a testament to all of the coaches and players.