Kenny Marcroft looks for a passing lane past a Hollis-Brookline defender on Sunday in Nashua. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 04, 2012NASHUA — Sunday was upset day at Stellos Stadium and unfortunately for the Plymouth lacrosse boys, they were the higher seed in their semifinal matchup.
The Bobcats got out to a quick lead, but couldn't hang on against a solid Hollis-Brookline squad and dropped a 12-8 decision to the Cavaliers in the Division III semifinals. The Cavaliers moved on to the finals to take on Pelham, upset winners over undefeated Derryfield in the other semifinal game.
"They're definitely a talented team," coach Glenn Mausolf said of the Cavaliers. "They present a lot of different scoring threats.
"We never were knocked down and we never gave up the fight," the Plymouth coach said.
Out of the gate, the Bobcats came out with some great offensive pressure and capitalized with three goals in the first half of the first quarter.
Hans Weber got the scoring started less than two minutes into the contest, as he came from behind the net and fired a shot into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Just about a minute and a half later, the Bobcats struck again, this time it was the defense doing the job, as Woody Hedberg took the ball in his own defensive end and moved it all the way up the field, depositing it in the net for a 2-0 lead.
The Bobcats kept pressuring, but the Cavaliers also had some chances. However, Bobcat keeper Dylan McIntosh did his job, stopping the shots that came his way.
With 6:44 to go in the first quarter, Weber found Mackenzie Bird with a nice pass and Bird buried the shot for a 3-0 lead for the Bobcats.
The Cavaliers bounced back just more than a minute and a half later, converting after McIntosh made a save, putting home the rebound to cut the lead to 3-1.
Hollis-Brookline kept on pressuring, forcing McIntosh to make a number of big saves. The Cavs also had a shot go wide before converting with 1:44 to go on a bounce shot that stayed low and found the back of the net.
After a Kyle Reisert shot went high, the Cavaliers came right back down and rifled a shot past McIntosh to tie the game at three with just 54 seconds to go in the quarter and the frame ended with the teams knotted at one.
The Cavaliers put the pressure on early in the second quarter, with the Plymouth defense standing strong for the first minute of the quarter.
However, the Bobcats took a penalty 1:07 into the quarter and the Cavaliers capitalized just 15 seconds into the advantage, taking their first lead of the game with 10:38 to play in the half.
Plymouth came back with pressure from Kenny Marcroft and Weber, but they couldn't convert. McIntosh held his ground at the other end and it eventually paid off, as the Bobcats tied the game with 5:41 to go.
Weber found Bird with another nice pass and Bird fired it home to tie the game at four.
Weber had a couple of quick shots stopped by the Cavalier keeper, but with 4:59 to go, the Bobcats took another penalty and again, the Cavaliers took advantage, scoring with 4:37 to play in the half for a 5-4 lead.
Hollis-Brookline added to the lead with 2:55 to go and put in another with 1:40 to go to take a 7-4 lead to the halftime break.
Plymouth got a power play to open the second half, but couldn't convert. Weber, Bird and Jared Kuehl had good looks for the Bobcats.
Bird then scored a pair of goals within 22 seconds to cut the lead to 7-6. The first came after a rebound of his own shot and the second came on a great feed from Reisert.
Plymouth got a man advantage chance with 7:52 to go in the third. Bird, Kuehl and Reisert had chances on the advantage but couldn't get the ball in the net and the Cavaliers killed off the penalty and eventually fired a shot five-hole on McIntosh for the 8-6 lead. Good defense from Ryan Farina helped McIntosh close the door on the third quarter with the Cavaliers clinging to an 8-6 lead.
The Cavs scored just 27 seconds into the fourth quarter to up the lead to 9-6. Tyler Gagne and Bird had some early shots for Plymouth and Weber and Dylan Hand also had looks, but the Bobcats could not convert and the Cavaliers upped the lead to 10-6 with 8:25 to go, forcing Mausolf to call timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Bobcats went hard in the offensive zone, with Weber, Bird and Reisert all getting great looks. However, it was Marcroft who got the big goal, as he fired one home with 4:23 to play, cutting the lead to 10-7.
The Bobcats, however, were not able to get any closer. Hand and Weber had chances, but the Cavaliers got the next goal with 3:20 to go in the period and added another with 2:08 to go to make it 12-7.
Bird scored what would be Plymouth's final goal of the season with 1:25 to go on a feed from Hand, but the Cavaliers were able to run out the clock the rest of the way and secured the trip to the Division III finals.
Mausolf noted that his squad was able to come back strong in the second half after struggling late in the first half.
"We were trying to look at things schematically," Mausolf said of his halftime adjustment. "We wanted to take away the close-in shots they got in the first half and force them to shoot from further away.
"But we dug ourselves in a little bit of a hole," the Plymouth coach continued.
Mausolf also praised the work of McIntosh in the Bobcat net, as the Cavalier goals were all solid efforts, including many shots in quite close on the net.
"The goals they scored were goal-scorers' goals," Mausolf said.
The game marked the end of the career for seniors Tom Provencher, Bird, Weber, Hand, Marcroft and Brian Woolfenden, all of whom graduated the day before the semifinal tilt.
"We're losing six terrific young men that are great lacrosse players and even better young men," Mausolf said. "I am sure they will do well in the world."
The Bobcats advanced to the semifinals with a 12-5 win over defending champion Hopkinton on Thursday, May 31.
Plymouth finished the regular season at 13-1 and earned the second seed in the Division III tournament.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126