One moment, the Milford High School boys lacrosse team looked like it might have a chance at an upset.
And then, just 65 seconds later, that moment seemed to be gone.
After falling behind early in the second quarter of Tuesday’s Division III preliminary round game, No. 3 Hollis Brookline scored four goals in 54 seconds, and 14 straight over the next two-plus quarters, to knock off No. 14 Milford 17-6. The Cavaliers (13-2) advance to the quarterfinals, where they’ll host No. 7 John Stark on Thursday, while the Spartans (5-10) saw their first postseason trip since 2005 end after one game.
Ryan Papineau led HB with six goals, but it was the play of Sam Whitaker – who finished with five goals and four assists – that propelled the Cavs to a 10-4 lead at halftime.
“I think that happens a lot of times when you’re jumping into the next phase of the season and it’s a one-and-done scenario,” HB coach Mike Soucy said. “Even though they know they’re pretty good, they’re still going to tighten up a little. We played a little tight and once we let loose and just played, we were able to settle down and do a lot of nice things.
“The good thing is I’ve got guys like Whitaker, who was tremendous. Not just what he did in the faceoff X, but offensively. He was a workhorse for us.”
After losing to HB twice during the regular season, Milford tried to mix things up on defense to slow the Cavs down. It worked at first, as HB led just 3-2 at the end of the first quarter.
“We tried to throw a junk defense at them that worked in shutting off (Ryan) Papineau early on, but Sam Whitaker took over the game,” Milford coach Rick Urda said. “We tried to focus on positive stuff. The first game, we lost by 15; the second game, we lost by six. Can we do another nine-goal swing and win by three?
“We were trying to be positive and put in their heads that we’re not just going to play a game, we’re going to win that game. They practiced like that, with some urgency. They executed the new defense and we executed pretty well.”
Milford got two goals each from Harrison Urda, Max Urda and Evan Wandrey, while Weston Pare had two assists and Ross Briggs added one. Adam Audet made 15 saves, including seven in the second quarter, when he faced a barrage of shots.
Down one at the start of the second, Max Urda won the opening faceoff and race down the field for a goal, tying the game at 3 just 15 seconds into the frame. Wandrey gave the Spartans the lead just 50 seconds later, but it wouldn’t last long.
HB won the faceoff and Dunn scored 19 seconds after that to tie it at 4, then Papineau scored 14 seconds later to make it 5-4 in favor of the Cavs. After a Milford timeout, Papineau and Whitaker scored 13 seconds apart to put HB up 7-4.
“Lacrosse is a game of ebbs and flows and it can change in a heart beat,” Rick Urda said. “Hollis has a history of starting slow in games and then it for some reason clicks. Under adversity, they click. We are developing that mentality. It’s far better than it was three years ago, and it’s better than last year.”
HB also got three goals from Patrick Dunn while Pat Nardone had two goals and two assists. Harrison Fetter and Peter Bertone also had two assists each and Logan Blake stopped 10 shots.
The Cavs will take on John Stark, which defeated No. 11 Hopkinton 17-4, at 5 p.m. on Thursday. HB won the lone regular-season meeting between the two teams, 17-7 on May 17.
“John Stark has some good players and our defense has to be ready,” Soucy said. “It was terrific (Tuesday). Every opportunity we have to practice at it, we’re getting a little bit better. We played man-to-man against them last time, so we may throw that at them and see what happens. We’ve got the zone we could go back on if we need to.”