NASHUA - Rarely has Michael Soucy found difficulty finding the right words to express his emotions. Yet after his third-seeded Hollis-Brookline boys lacrosse team outscored previously undefeated Plymouth by 10 goals in the second half of Saturday's Division III semifinal, Soucy told his team he was speechless.
"It's the best half of lacrosse we've played all year," he said, following HBHS's 16-6 triumph at Nashua's Stellos Stadium. "I think part of it is, and I don't know what happened, but we lost to Con-Val a week ago, and it just kind of woke us up, and we've played a little bit better every game since then."
Plymouth (16-0) had survived many challenges throughout the regular season to carry an unblemished record into the D-III semis, but (14-2) Hollis-Brookline's second-half surge was too much for the second-ranked Bobcats to handle.
"They stuck to their game plan, and really, the difference was that they capitalized on their man-up situations," said Plymouth head coach Glenn Mausolf. "They were able to find the two-on-one situations, and they were able to put it in the back of the net ... we took some penalties and it just kind of snowballed on us."
Though the teams entered halftime deadlocked at four goals apiece, the HBHS offense, paced by six goals from senior attacker Ryan Papineau and five tallies from Sam Whitaker, proved too potent in the second half. The Cavaliers outscored their foes from the White Mountains 12-2 in the final 24 minutes including four of eight fourth quarter goals on a man-advantage during the first three minutes of the final frame.
"We opened them up a little more in the second half. I think that was partly due to the penalties they drew," said Soucy. "I think special teams, in a lot of ways, was the difference. Special teams really held down for us in the first half, when we were getting all kinds of penalties. We didn't give up much from it, and they were winning the faceoffs too. It got flipped in the second half, where they picked up penalties and we were able to capitalize, and we were gaining possession off the faceoff too. That's a huge difference."
A few timely second-half adjustments also contributed to the offensive surge, said Soucy.
"We opened things up a little bit," he said. "We got them to come out and play us, and when teams do that, we have an opportunity to go by them, and certainly that happened."
Perhaps lost in the second half offensive onslaught was the play of senior goalie Logan Blake and the HBHS defense."Logan Blake was unbelievable. He kept us in there in the first half and made some unbelievable saves in the second half," said Soucy."I thought my defense, especially around the eight minute mark of the second quarter, I thought my defense was gassed," he said. "I thought they had nothing left in the tank because we had played so much defense at that point and time, and they just held solid."
Hollis-Brookline awaits the winner of top-seeded (18-0) Derryfield against No. 5 (13-3) Con-Val.
"We'll be happy to have another shot at either one of them because we lost to both of them the last time we played them, so it doesn't really matter who play," said Soucy