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H.S. Lacrosse: Salem brings it up a notch

By ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

May 15. 2018 9:07PM




The Salem High School boys’ lacrosse team has reinvigorated first-year coach Brendan Megan’s love for the sport.

In return, Megan has helped rejuvenate the Blue Devils’ program.

Megan played high school lacrosse at Pinkerton Academy of Derry for coach Brian O’Reilly before going on to play two years at St. Anselm College. Injuries played a role in cutting Megan’s college career short. Megan had developed almost an animosity toward the sport by the end of his playing days.

The Salem High position was a great way for Megan, 23, to get back into lacrosse, he said, and provided him the opportunity to begin his coaching career.

With four games remaining, Megan has already helped the Blue Devils (9-5) set a single-season program record for victories, powered by a program-record six-game winning streak that recently ended.

Salem went 4-14 last season and 7-11 in 2016. Megan’s goal going into his inaugural coaching campaign was to secure eight wins.

“I thought we would be a good team and top last year’s record,” Megan said. “Where we’re sitting right now is a surprise even to myself but it’s exciting.”

While the turnaround has come under his watch, Megan credited his players for the program’s success this spring.

“Like I told the kids the other day, what I’ve done is not entirely radical,” Megan said. “I didn’t go to coaching school 101 and bring in new schemes. ... They decided this year they wanted to be better. If you make that decision, that gets you quite a ways.”

What Megan has brought to the program is an emphasis on discipline and attention to details. This year’s senior class and Megan’s coaching staff, which includes former Salem head coach Mark White, have helped him implement those two themes.

On the field, defense has proven to be Salem’s biggest strength. Led by senior goalie Sebastian Farah and classmate James Hayes, the Blue Devils have not allowed an opponent to score more than nine goals in any of their nine victories. Only Pinkerton, Hanover, Exeter and Pentucket of West Newbury, Mass., have had double-digit scoring outputs against Salem.

“(Hayes and Farah), they’ve led the unit and allowed us to come back in games or stay even,” Megan said.

Comebacks have been frequent during the Blue Devils’ campaign. Salem came from behind to beat Nashua North and Division II Windham and rallied to beat Nashua South in overtime earlier this year.

“All those comebacks (are) showing resiliency and emphasizing to the team and the guys that you’re never really out of it,” Megan said.

Offensively, the Blue Devils are utilizing attention to detail and discipline to move the ball around quickly and get a number of players involved. Nick Gore is among Salem’s top scorers but the attackman is not the team’s lone goal producer.

“It doesn’t matter who scores as long as we score,” Megan said. “The guys have bought into that. A guy like Nick Gore has had so much success because teams haven’t been on him entirely. They’ve been on the entire team.”

Part of the reason the Blue Devils’ attack has been effective stems from what Megan described as an incredible season from faceoff specialist Adam Maroun.

Megan said his players are excited about the prospect of reaching the postseason but the team is still focused on its remaining regular-season contests. The Blue Devils have a challenging three-game stretch ahead as they host Bedford (8-5) today, travel to Division II Dover (9-2) on Friday and open next week’s slate against Bishop Guertin of Nashua (13-0) on Monday.

Regardless of how its season ends, Salem has already had a strong campaign. Megan wants to make that a frequent occurrence going forward.

“My hope is this continues and what we started here is a good foundation for years to come,” Megan said.

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PERHAPS the most impressive part of the Bishop Guertin boys’ lacrosse team’s unbeaten mark is the manner in which it has defeated its out-of-state competition.

For years, Cardinals coach Chris Cameron has challenged his program by scheduling games against powers in the sport from outside New Hampshire. Before this season began, Cameron said his team’s out-of-state slate this year may be its toughest ever.

Bishop Guertin has defeated Mercer Island, the Washington 3A state runner-up last year, and traditional Massachusetts contenders Needham, Boston College High School, Reading Memorial and Xaverian Brothers this season.

The Cardinals have outscored their out-of-state competition, 75-40, holding each opponent to nine goals or fewer.

Bishop Guertin will host Duxbury, Mass., which is ranked No. 2 in the Bay State by the Boston Globe, on May 23 in its final out-of-state game of the season.

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Congratulations to Laconia girls’ lacrosse players Becca Howe and Skyler Tautkus and Nashua South girls’ lacrosse player Abbey Rowe.

Howe, who will play at St. Bonaventure University this fall, scored her 200th career goal in the Sachems’ 20-7 victory over St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover last Thursday. She already owned the program record for career goals before reaching the milestone. Tautkus, a junior and Merrimack College commit, scored 12 goals against the Saints, setting a single-game program record.

Rowe, a junior goalie, recorded her 100th save of the season and 300th of her career in Nashua South’s 15-5 loss at Bishop Guertin on May 9.

The High School Lacrosse column runs Wednesdays during the season. Alex Hall can be reached at ahall@unionleader.com.


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