IN HIS final game defending the Derryfield School cage, senior Avry Truex had the game of his career.
Truex became the first goalie in NHIAA boys’ or girls’ lacrosse history to surrender fewer than two goals in a state championship game last Saturday, when the Cougars defeated Winnacunnet of Hampton, 9-1, at Bill Ball Stadium in Exeter to win their fourth consecutive Division II boys’ title.
Truex, who will play at NCAA Division III Connecticut College next spring, made eight saves and had a shutout bid going until Winnacunnet senior Tyler Hoar scored with 3:17 remaining.
When top-seeded Derryfield (19-1) earned its 9-8 regular-season win over the second-seeded Warriors (14-4) on April 12, Truex was not in the Cougars’ cage.
Truex held strong during a scoreless opening quarter in the title game before Derryfield scored four times in the second quarter to take a 4-0 lead into halftime.
“Whenever the lights have been brightest — I know it’s cliche but he’s just showed up ever since his freshman year,” Derryfield coach Chris Hettler said. “In these types of games, he’s been dialed in and we just simplified things. We said, ‘Avry, you don’t have to call out slides (Saturday). It’s just get set, see the ball and save it.’ And he did (Saturday). He was there.”
Hettler said his team badly wanted to earn the first ever shutout win in an NHIAA lacrosse championship game but the program still made history Saturday by becoming the first Division II school to win four straight titles.
Truex and his fellow seven seniors are the all-time winningest class in program history, finishing with four state crowns, a 78-2 record and undefeated against Division II competition.
This class also has the most in Derryfield’s history headed off to play collegiately. In addition to Truex, midfielders Jonny Maclean (Monmouth) and John Anderson (Providence) and defensemen Max Horton (Hobart) and Alex Neville (Bates) will all continue their careers in college.
“Just an unbelievable group,” Hettler said. “A lot of these guys have been with me since sixth grade and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they’ve gone out. ... I don’t know if we’ll have another group like that.”
The players who were most instrumental in the Pinkerton Academy boys’ fourth-quarter comeback last Saturday were brothers Mason and Hunter Drouin and Gennaro Marra. All three are multi-sport athletes, which has been a trademark of the Astros program over coach Brian O’Reilly’s 37-year tenure.
Top-seeded Bishop Guertin of Nashua led, 9-6, entering the final period. Mason Drouin, a junior, scored three of his game-high five goals while Hunter, a sophomore, notched two of his four tallies in the final frame to help the second-seeded Astros secure their 14-12 victory and second straight title.
Mason Drouin scored the game’s final two goals inside the last 35.6 seconds. Marra, a senior, logged eight of his 21 faceoff wins in the fourth quarter, including the final three of the game.
In addition to being captain of the lacrosse team, Marra was captain of the football and hockey teams at Pinkerton. The Drouin brothers also play for the Pinkerton hockey team in the winter.
“Gennaro Marra, Mason Drouin, Hunter Drouin — they’re hockey players,” said O’Reilly, who also serves as Pinkerton’s football coach and director of athletics. “They’re varsity hockey players. They like contact. They’ve learned things from other sports. Maybe there’s too many lacrosse players on the other team (Bishop Guertin) and not enough multi-sport athletes.
“The game has gotten more refined and has gotten more kids — like other sports — who want to play year-round. We don’t like our kids playing year-round. Some other teams like their kids playing year-round. Well, good for them. I’ll take hard-nosed athletes who like contact and don’t have a problem when somebody hits them every single time. That’s the old-guy nature in me.”
The Hopkinton boys’ team coasted to its third straight Division III championship last Saturday with a 15-5 triumph over Pelham. The reason behind the Hawks’ continued success, coach Deacon Blue said, comes from their strong youth feeder programs.
Hopkinton has won four titles and made five championship-game appearances in the program’s history, all of which occurred in the past nine years.
“It starts at the youth level,” Blue said. “We’ve got a huge youth program — a lot of success in elementary, middle school, U-10, 12, 14. We’ve got a lot of great, devoted coaches volunteering time unpaid.”
When players get to Blue at Hopkinton High, he keeps the entire program together rather than separating the varsity and junior varsity groups from each other.
“We keep the team as one cohesive unit,” Blue said. “We have the same practice time. We try to get freshmen right in there with seniors, learning from the guys and just build it up for the future.”
Throughout Pinkerton’s second-half surge in the Division I girls’ championship game last Thursday at Penmen Stadium, Bishop Guertin stayed composed.
Cardinals coach Kerry Gobiel said the experience her players gained during the team’s difficult regular-season games helped them secure the 12-11 victory and the program’s second consecutive state title.
The triumph marked the first time the Cardinals (19-2) have ever won back-to-back state championships and their fourth overall.
Pinkerton (19-2) vaporized the Cardinals’ three-goal halftime lead with its 4-1 run over the opening 7:51 of the second half, knotting the score at 8-8. From then on, neither team led by more than a goal and the score was tied three more times. Cardinals junior Abby Ahearn scored the game-winning goal on a free-position shot with 23.3 seconds remaining.
Bishop Guertin withstood a similar second-half push in its 16-12 regular-season win over the Astros on April 16. The Cardinals also went 3-1 in their games against Massachusetts schools, defeating Chelmsford, 11-6, Westford, 14-9, and Andover, 14-5. Cohasset handed the Cardinals what proved to be their last defeat of the season, 17-14, on May 21.
Bedford was the only in-state team to beat BG this season, earning a 15-14 overtime win on May 9.
“I think that’s something we’ve dealt with a little bit in our tough games,” Gobiel said of the title game’s tightly contested second half. “And I think having the strength of schedule that we’ve had and playing teams like Cohasset and bigger out-of-state competition has really helped us to be able to stay composed through some tough times,” Gobiel said.
When Pinkerton took its first lead at 10-9 with 12:52 remaining, Ahearn said the Cardinals did more than remain composed. Falling behind for the first time in the game reignited Ahearn and her teammates, she said.
“Having those timeouts just in our little huddles, we like to hype each other up and get the energy back up,” Ahearn said. “And that’s what we did there and I’m glad it came out the way it did.”