EXETER — It was as close to a flawless performance as a lacrosse team could have, and it came on the biggest stage in the Granite State.
The Derryfield School boys’ lacrosse team slowly picked through a difficult zone defense and eventually rolled to a 9-1 win over Winnacunnet to pick up the program’s fourth straight Division II championship.
The Warriors sat in the zone and Derryfield couldn’t solve it early. The game remained scoreless into the second quarter before the Cougars found holes and opened up a 4-0 halftime lead and never looked back.
“The coaching staff and the kids did a lot of film study and knew what they were going to do and the looks that we drew up, all of it was there,” Derryfield coach Chris Hettler said. “We said guys, we’re doing everything we did (in practice), the shots didn’t fall, just keep grinding away and they will.”
No one had more shots fall than senior John MacLean. The Monmouth-bound attackman had a hat trick and a pair of assists. His two goals in the third quarter seemingly put the game out of reach as it pushed the Cougar lead to 6-0.
“That kid is my brother and I love him to death,” Derryfield senior goalie Avry Truex said. “He is the greatest attackman to ever play New Hampshire lacrosse.”
With the offense finding its groove as the game went on, Truex and the Derryfield defense was able to put together a historic 48 minutes. Never before had a team been held to less than two goals in a state final since the NHIAA began sanctioning boys lacrosse back in 1994.
The Cougars held the Warriors scoreless until there was 3:17 remaining in the game. Truex turned aside eight Winnacunnet shots en route to the win, and the defense kept the Warriors’ attack from ever feeling settled. Winnacunnet turned the ball over 21 times.
“We’re a group that’s been playing together for a long time, and we know that we’re going to hold each other accountable for our actions,” Truex said. “For us we know to get in there and get the work done. We work well together.”
When the teams met on April 12, the game was anything but a blowout as the Cougars had to hold on late to earn a 9-8 win. However, the Cougars were without a few key pieces including Truex, which made the difference between the earlier matchup and Saturday.
“We didn’t have Avry in net, and we didn’t have Jacob Scholten on defense so we were kind of scrambling,” Hettler said. “We had a lot of new guys in different roles on offense so we were just starting to figure out what we were good at, what we wanted to do offensively.”
After a season of growth on the field, Truex, MacLean, and the other six graduating seniors leave behind four state titles and a massive legacy of success and accomplishment at Derryfield. That includes a win streak that reached 65 games, the ninth longest in U.S. high school lacrosse history.
“They can celebrate so many things right now,” Hettler said of his seniors. “They’ve never lost to a D2 team. They held the nation’s longest winning streak at one point. They are the all-time winningest class at 78-2. I know it seems like we’re graduating some great guys, but the cupboard’s not bare. The guys are excited about the legacy they’ve left.”