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Cougars squeak by Knights in title game


Kingswood lacrosse boys end season as Division III runners-up



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TATE JOZOKOS (left) and Matt Boucher celebrate Kingswood's 18-6 win over Pelham in the Division III semifinals Saturday in Nashua. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 06, 2010
NASHUA — As coach Matt Jozokos gathered his team on the turf at Stellos Stadium in Nashua just minutes after the clock ran out on the Kingswood boys' lacrosse team's shot at a Division III championship, he told them they had a right to be upset.

However, he also pointed out, the Knights had absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

"It's one of those life lessons that's tough to swallow," the Knight coach said, as he glanced around at the sad faces around him in the huddle.

The Knights, who won 16 games in a row heading into the championship battle, got their most competitive opponent of the season in the final game, as the Cougars hung with the Knights from the first whistle and took the lead for the final time with 10:15 to play and added the game-winning tally with 8:24 on the clock and took the 12-11 decision, despite a flurry of chances from the Kingswood offense in the final few minutes.

Look for a complete recap of the Knights' effort in the finals in next week's edition.

Semifinals

NASHUA — The Kingswood boys' lacrosse team made sure that the newly-renovated Kingswood Regional High School gymnasium will have a new banner when the renovations are finished.

The Knights, who finished the regular season undefeated and demolished Hopkinton 15-0 in the Division III quarterfinals, used an impressive second half to beat fourth-seeded Pelham by an 18-6 score at Stellos Stadium in Nashua on Saturday, June 5.

The Pythons, particularly in the first half, proved to be one of the toughest tests the Knights had faced all season. A team that had it's taste of playoff success in past years, the Pythons were looking to knock off the Knights, who were untested in big playoff situations.

"These guys haven't played in big games," coach Matt Jozokos said of his squad. "Pelham's been here, they understand the big game, but we settled in."

The Knights came out and let it be known that they weren't going to back down in the face of playoff pressure, as freshman Tate Jozokos drilled a ball to the back of the net just 41 seconds into the game, with senior Derek Brockney picking up the assist.

The Knights had a good chance to go up by two goals less than a minute later, as the Pythons took a penalty. Matt Boucher drove a shot off the crossbar and it remained a one-goal game.

Pelham put together a couple of runs at the net and then capitalized on a steal and drove in for the tying goal with 9:27 to go in the first quarter.

The Knights took what would be the first of many, many penalties on the night with 9:12 to play, but the Kingswood boys were able to kill off the penalty with a solid defensive effort.

Pelham had a shot go wide and the Knights came roaring back with Jozokos, Brockney and Boucher all putting the ball on net without any success.

Brockney sent a shot on net with 4:16 to play and Boucher pounced on the rebound and gave the Knights a 2-1 lead.

The Knights took a pair of penalties with 3:33 to play and the Pythons capitalized, scoring the tying goal with 3:09 to play.

Brockney came back with his second goal of the game with 2:21 to play, as he took a great pass from Boucher and buried it in the net for a 3-2 lead.

The Knights took possibly the strangest penalty of the season with 1:41 to play. Coach Jozokos, noticing a bad play by one of his players that was sure to be called, began yelling "no, no, no," to his team as the official threw the yellow flag for the infraction. The ref then added a penalty on the Knight coach, saying he was arguing the call with his 'no, no, no' call.

Pelham then took advantage, tying the game with 1:15 to play. Kingswood got a couple more penalties in the final minute of the period, but freshman goalie Mike Bernier made a couple of big saves and the Knights killed off the penalties and ended the first quarter with the score tied at one.

The Knights took another penalty 30 seconds into the second quarter and Bernier made a big save to keep his team tied.

However, with 10:53 to play, the Pythons took a 4-3 lead, only the second time all season that the Knights had trailed in a game (a 1-0 score at Milford on May 17).

Andy Hamill and Jozokos had shots that were either saved or soared high. Bernier also turned away a good Pelham bid to stretch the lead.

Kingswood tied the game with 8:30 to play, as the Knights moved the ball around and Colin Piper eventually got a great look at the net and tied the game at four. Boucher got the assist.

Andrew Souther had a scoring bid saved and Brockney hit the post on either side of another save by Bernier at the other end.

Brockney didn't hit the post with 6:34 to play, as he stole the ball and drove in for a 5-4 lead for the Knights.

Kingswood took a two-minute penalty with 4:42 to play and the Pythons delivered the tying goal with 3:53 to play.

The Knights got a power play with 2:38 to play and needed only four seconds to take the lead for the final time, as Boucher took a pass from Brockney and drilled the ball to the back of the net for a 6-5 lead.

Less than a minute later, Boucher returned the favor, assisting Brockney for a 7-5 lead.

Jozokos and Brockney both had shots save and the game went to halftime with a 7-5 lead.

With a power play to start the second half, the Knights came out and dominated the first two minutes, putting four goals in the back of the net in the first 2:15 of the third quarter, stretching the lead from 7-5 to 11-5.

Boucher got the scoring started 25 seconds into the quarter, with an assist from Brockney. Boucher then took a pass from Jozokos and buried it in the net one minute later for a 9-5 lead.

Fourteen seconds later, Brockney fired a shot home on an assist from Sam Walsh for a 10-5 lead.

The Knights got another power play and capitalized with 9:45 to play, as Jozokos fired it home on an assist from Souther for the 11-5 lead.

Kingswood continued to pressure, as Brockney sent a shot wide. The Knight defense also stepped up, as Hamill and Wyatt French made good plays and Bernier turned in a couple of solid plays, including a pair on a Pelham power play midway through the period.

Brockney stretched the lead to 12-5 with 3:54 to play and Jozokos upped the lead to 13-5 with 2:04 to play as the Knights began to get more comfortable in the Stellos Stadium environment and took the 13-5 lead to the end of the third quarter.

Pelham scored on the power play just 35 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 13-6, but Piper netted a shorthanded goal with 10:13 to play for a 14-6 lead. Jozokos assisted on the goal.

Jozokos then fed Boucher for a 15-6 lead just 14 seconds later and then hit the crossbar.

The Knights did a good job killing off another penalty, as French made a good defensive play. The defense turned things over to the offense, and as the Knights have done all year with the lead, the offense began moving the ball around the field, running down the clock.

With 6:12 on the clock, Boucher netted the Knights 16th goal on an assist from Brockney.

Jozokos hit the crossbar and Boucher was denied by the Pelham keeper. Bernier made a couple more saves at the other end.

Boucher netted another goal with 2:55 to play on an assist from Hamill, who was ejected from the game with 1:20 to play after his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the day.

Bernier then picked up his second assist of the season, firing a long pass to Boucher, who buried the ball with 54.3 seconds left to give the Knights the 18-6 lead, which they maintained for the final 54 seconds to assure themselves a place in the Division III finals.

"Once we settled in and stated to do the things we wanted to do, like getting loose balls and winning face-offs, we were OK," Jozokos said.

The Knight coach was certainly not pleased with the number of penalties his team took, blamed it on his kids' focus.

"Sometimes they focus in, sometimes they don't," said the Knight mentor. "When they lose their focus, sometimes it costs us."

The Knights were in action in the Division III finals after deadline on Tuesday night at Stellos Stadium against second-ranked Derryfield. The Cougars beat Hollis-Brookline in the other semifinal match on Saturday.

"Derryfield's a good team," Jozokos said. "We'll match up well with them and they'll match up well with us."

Look for a recap of the Division III finals on our Web site at www.NewHampshireLakesandMountains.com on Tuesday evening and look for pictures on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wolfeboro-Falls-NH/Salmon-Press-Sports-Wolfeboro. A full recap and photos will appear in next week's edition.

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