IT’S BEEN perfection across the board for the Bishop Guertin of Nashua lacrosse teams so far.
Heading into Wednesday’s action, the BG boys’ team was 6-0 with wins over several strong out of state schools and the girls were 6-0 and were playing up a level against Division I Nashua North.
The programs don’t just share team colors and the Cardinals nickname. The connection between the teams is a strong one of mutual support.
“The boys did a nice thing for us before our first game this year. They gave us flowers to wish us good luck for the season. We’re really supportive of each other and they’ve really set an excellent example for us,” said girls’ coach Mandy Rogers. “I consider (boys’ coach) Chris Cameron not only a colleague but a mentor. He’s created a great program and it’s something that we’re looking to emulate.”
The players try to attend other’s games and also spend time with one another outside of the school and sports settings. Boys’ captain Connor Donahue and girls’ team senior Averi Farhat are even going to the prom together.“We’re all friends and a lot of us hang out together outside of school. We support each other and go to each other’s games,” Donahue said. “It’s good for both us.”
There is another connection as well as Cameron’s daughter Kristin is a junior on the girls’ squad. One of the top players on the team, she is committed to Northwestern University already.
The boys’ team is coming off its fourth consecutive Division I NHIAA state championship. The Cardinals lost two-time All-American midfielder Blake Boudreau, but returned most of the rest of the team that won it all last season.
“We came in running,” Cameron said. “These guys couldn’t wait for the first day of practice. It’s a group that knows what their goals are and we had a challenging preseason schedule. We’ve been healthy, knock on wood, and we’re a deep team and our attack is probably the most deep we’ve ever had.”
The boys have played (and defeated) out of state foes such as Needham, Mass. and St. Joseph’s out of New Jersey.
“Those are the best games of the season in my mind,” Donahue said. “It’s the toughest competition and we all really get on each other and get up for those to make sure we’re well-prepared for when they come so we can perform our best.”
Cameron said the focus on non-NHIAA opponents can sometimes be too narrow, however.
“I think too much their focus has been on out of state. That’s how we measure ourselves. They’re a pretty driven group and they want to be as good as they can be,” Cameron said. “They’re talented enough where they can win enough games and probably make it to the final four without me. They want to get better and we’re putting in some high level stuff. Everything we give them they’re ready to handle.”
The Bishop Guertin boys will tangle with perennial rival Pinkerton Academy of Derry (6-2) on Monday in a state championship rematch.
As for the Cardinals girls’ team, Rogers likes the way her squad thinks the game and improves every time out.
“We’ve really been working on the transition game and our shot selection,” Rogers said. “Every day, we’re taking what we’ve learned and moving forward and getting a little better. One of our strengths as a team is out ability to learn and grow.”
The girls play a smooth game, with crisp passes and in-your-face defense that Rogers preaches. Heading into Wednesday’s game, the closest an opponent had come to BG on the scoreboard was an eight-goal deficit.
“On defense, we’ve increased our aggressiveness and the girls are responding,” she said. “Right now our transition looks strong, the ball is moving nicely so overall we’re playing a good game but we’re always looking to improve and get better.”
Bedford stakes its claim: With its 10-9 win over Pinkerton of Derry Wednesday there is little doubt now that Bedford’s boys’ team should have made the jump to Division I this season rather than next.
By taking down a DI power the Bulldogs not only ran their win streak to 47 games but served notice that the Division II race might be over already. Bedford has won two consecutive state titles and head coach Matt Guerard said after last season that he hoped to move to Division I this year.
That move was put off until next season, but Bedford has already made it clear with wins over DI teams such as Exeter (3-3), Hanover (5-2) and now Pinkerton (6-2) that it is ready for prime time.
Ian Clark covers high school lacrosse for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.