LACONIA – On Saturday, the Hopkinton girls’ lacrosse team went somewhere it had never been before – the semifinals. After a 15-10 win against No. 3 Bow, the Hawks will face more of the unknown when they meet Laconia in the D-III final on Tuesday.
“First time in history we made the final four, and we wanted it so bad,” said Hopkinton junior Lyndon Flanagan, who finished with a game-high six points (three goals, three assists). “Now it’s our first championship.”
The second-seeded Hawks (15-1) felt some nerves as they headed into their first semifinal, but they were balanced with confidence.
“We were nervous, but we knew we had worked really hard to get here,” Hopkinton’s Amelia Bassett said. “We got pumped on the bus ride, we were talking about what we had to do and what we had to work on. But mainly in the back of our head we knew we could beat this team.”
That belief showed up on the field. The Falcons (13-3) scored first, but after that the Hawks went on a six-goal run. Flanagan had two goals and an assist in the surge, and when Bassett (three goals) scored on assist from Ellie Morrall with 11:16 left in the half, Hopkinton held a 6-1 lead.
“I thought we came out a little flat and they were on fire right from the get go,” Bow coach Chris Raabe said. “So that got us stuck on our heels a bit and then we just played catch up all day.”
Bow started to catch up after the Hawks’ sixth goal as Barrie Guertin (two goals) and Sofia Darrell scored, but Hopkinton answered with goals from Anna Hoffman and Sophia Staples-Roy, both assisted by Flanagan, to go up, 8-3. With the Falcons focused on Flanagan and Bassett, Hoffman (three goals, assist) and Staples-Roy (four goals) were able to find open space and made the most of it.
“It’s great when you have two dominant players, but then you have those other two (Hoffman and Staples-Roy) who can also score,” Hopkinton coach Tim Bassett said.
By halftime, the Falcons found themselves in a 10-4 hole, but they weren’t going to sit in the bottom of it.
“We weren’t feeling like we were out of it. We thought we could keep going,” Bow senior Sonya DeLorie said. “We definitely didn’t put our heads down. We just kept fighting the whole time.”
“At halftime we just talked about the fact that we were getting beat to the ball and this was it,” Raabe said. “There were 25 minutes left to play really hard, and the second half was definitely better for us.”
The Hawks pushed their lead to 12-5 early in the second half before the Falcons made their move. Bow clamped down on the defensive end, went on a 4-1 run with two goals from Bridget Ehrenberg, one each from Elizabeth Guertin and Charlotte Ulrich (two goals) and trimmed the lead to 13-9 with 13:39 left.
One of Ehrenberg’s goals came on a man-down situation, which was a common situation for Bow in the second half. In their effort to get back in the game, the Falcons pushed too hard on the defensive end resulting in a slew of yellow cars and players in the box.
“I think the best thing we did in the second half was keep our cool,” Amelia Bassett said. “We stayed composed and just played our lacrosse.”
Playing short-handed added several degrees of difficulty to Bow’s comeback bid, but so did the Hopkinton defense. Goalie Elizabeth Berliner was outstanding in the second half, making nine of her 11 saves after halftime.
“(Berliner) had an awesome game, and so did (defenders) Amelia Thomas and Cathen Hall, and Piya Bryant, who is just a freshman, they all helped a lot,” coach Bassett said.
With the Hopkinton defense, and their own penalties, keeping the Falcons in check, the Hawks pulled away in the latter stages. Amelia Bassett scored with 9:40 left in the game and again less than a minute later to give her team a 15-9 cushion that it rode to the final whistle.
“First time to the championship, it feels amazing,” Bassett, a junior, said. “All these girls work really hard all year round. We did team runs twice a week, some of us lifted, we had to start practices inside the gym. So it’s just awesome that all our hard work is paying off.”
The Hopkinton coaches allowed their players to enjoy the moment after the game, but they also believed the Hawks had more hard work in front of them.
“The caliber of play you saw today won’t be good enough in the next game,” coach Bassett said. “I think we’re going to have to step up before that one.”