Souhegan boys lacrosse rolls past Tomahawks

Sabers spread out scoring during 15-1 rout at home

Staff photo by TOM KING Souhegan’s Alec Burns gets mobbed by his teammates at home plate after hitting a walkoff homer to give the Sabers a 7-6 win over Hollis Brookline on Monday.

AMHERST – As the final moments of the first quarter ticked away, Souhegan senior goalie Alex Burnley scooped up the ball and launched it downfield to Trace Hennas, who faked a shot and beat the goalie to score with 2.8 seconds remaining.

The alert execution was exactly the kind of play Souhgean coach Keith Bertrand was hoping to see.

Hennas’ late tally gave the Sabers a four-goal cushion and Souhegan rolled to a 15-1 victory over Merrimack in a Division I boys lacrosse matchup Saturday at Calvetti Family Field.

“I was really impressed because we’ve really been stressing to be ‘whistle ready.’ Any time there’s a change of possession on a violation – whether it’s against us or for us – we want to really push that ball,” Bertrand, the former Nashua North coach in his first season with the Sabers, said. “(Burnley) grabbed the ball and we went the length of the field in about four seconds and scored. We had another situation on the faceoff where they were complaining about a call and we were ready to go and jammed it down for a goal. Things like that, we were really happy with.”

Thomas Hornor led the Sabers (2-0) with three goals, while Foster Burnley, Nick Jordan, Tyler Hall and Hennas scored twice. Drew Pollio (two assists), Ethan Hopey (assist), Luke Civiello (assist) and Julian Whitter each contributed a goal for Souhegan, as well.

Considering the limited work on the practice field with his new team, Bertrand was pleased with the plethora of goal-scoring weapons.

“We’re still trying to find ourselves. I’m a new coach, so we’re just getting familiar with each other,” Bertrand explained. “Our offensive system really isn’t quite in yet, but we’re making strides every single day and we felt good about how we played today offensively.”

Merrimack (0-3) played its best lacrosse early, as the Sabers only had a 7-5 advantage in shots on goal after the opening frame. However, Souhegan dominated the rest of the way. The Sabers erupted for seven second-quarter goals for an 11-0 halftime cushion.

Bertrand recognized his Sabers looked a little vulnerable early.

“In the first quarter, we were having trouble communicating. If it wasn’t for our goalie Alex Burnley, who is the best in the state, that could have been a game in the first quarter,” Bertrand said. “We kind of put the clamps down in the second quarter. We started communicating and played significantly better at that point.”

Merrimack’s goal came from Jay Lanigan in the third quarter off an assist from Alec Bronchuk. Goalie Garrett Murray made eight stops for the Tomahawks, while Devin Johnson had two saves in fourth-quarter duty.

Alex Burnley made nine saves for Souhegan, behind a stingy defensive effort from Jack Manning, Sam Ezequelle, Palmer Belowski, Foster Burnley (team-high eight ground balls) and Finley Morgan.

“The Burnley kids are very, very good. We had a couple of opportunities there, we just didn’t finish right off the bat,” Merrimack coach Brian Miller said. “We’re a really young team. I think we have a starting group of seven sophomores. They’re getting adjusted to the varsity speed. (Souhegan) did a nice job of capitalizing on our mistakes and our mental errors.”

Souhegan returns to action Thursday at home against Nashua South.

Merrimack hosts Manchester Central (0-3) on Thursday and Miller hopes his Tomahawks’ dedicatoin pays off with their first victory of the young season.

“It’s about the process. We have a lot of things to work on. We have a lot of young athletes who have the tools,” Miller said. “It’s going to take a while to get things put together, but it will come along. We have a good group of seniors leading the guys. It’s frustrating because they want to win, but Division I is tough.”