Cardinals too much for Sabers
NASHUA – The outcome wasn’t surprising, but how the Bishop Guertin High School boys lacrosse team reach the Division I final for the 11th year in a row was.
Holding a one-goal lead at halftime, the top-seeded Cardinals needed a dominant third quarter to fight off No. 4 Souhegan 19-12 in the semifinals Wednesday at Stellos Stadium.
Bishop Guertin outscored the Sabers 9-0 in the third quarter and withstood everything Souhegan had to throw at it to keep alive the Cardinals’ quest for a sixth championship in a row. That quest ended in Saturday, when Bishop Guertin lost to No. 3 Pinkerton in the final 9-7.
If the Cardinals are going to win the program’s eighth title, they’re going to have to play a lot better than they have so far these playoffs, according to coach Chris Cameron.
“What is a theme for us is not playing 48 minutes,” Cameron said. “We’ve been a fast-starting team in a lot of games, but we need to play 48 minutes. That’s what my message is to these guys.
“I was certainly concerned. These guys (Souhegan) weren’t intimidated by us. They came out and had all the confidence in the world and played hard.”
But after making it an 8-7 game going into halftime, Souhegan coach Brad Bishop knew what his team would have to do in the third quarter, and the Sabers just couldn’t do it.
“The first half was great and we knew they were going to come out and play the most angry game of their lives because they don’t like to be that close,” Bishop said. “If we want to win this game and play for a championship Saturday, we’re going to have to play twice as good as them because they’re going to come out like a scary team.
“They did. They answered and came out firing. We were a little flat and they took advantage.”
Alex Astarita led the Cardinals with five goals and two assists while Gage Sevigny and Charlie O’Brien each had three goals and an assist. Mike Carluccio also had three goals and Nick Pruner (assist) and Jordan Caito had two goals each while Tim Hinrichs also scored.
But Bishop Guertin struggled to stop Souhegan in the first half, as goalie Colin Casey had just one save at halftime and finished with just five.
Souhegan (13-5) got five goals from Joe Nutting and four from Brendan Cray while Trevor Barrett had two goals and two assists. Wilson Exequelle also scored and Zach Bossi had three assists while Alex Burnley helped keep the Sabers in the game by making 10 saves, five in each half.
Souhegan took a 3-2 lead midway through the first quarter, but Bishop Guertin went on a 5-0 run, going up 7-3 on a goal by Prunier with 9:10 left until halftime.
Barrett scored to get the Sabers back within three, but Astarita answered 34 seconds later to make it 8-4.
Then the Souhegan defense, led by Burnley, started making stops and got the ball out in transition. The Sabers closed the half on a 3-0 run and trailed 8-7 at the break.
“We just kind of were going through the motions a little bit,” Cameron said. “We were on pace for a 20-goal game and then the last five minutes (of the first half) we stopped playing. We played in spurts. We let them hang around and they started believing.
“They’re a talented team, but they don’t have the talent or the depth we have, but they have guys who can scrap. They’re a well-coached team and they play with fire. They weren’t going away and the longer you let a team hang around, that’s what will happen.”
The Cardinals opened the second half with three goals in the opening 3:02, won seven of the eight faceoffs in the quarter and added two more goals in the final minute to take a 17-7 lead after three.
“This will be good for us,” Cameron said.
“If we play the way we did and Pinkerton plays the way it did (Wednesday), I don’t like our chances. We’ll have to play a lot better.”