By ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
MANCHESTER -- The Exeter High School boys’ lacrosse team ended what was the nation’s longest active winning streak Friday night at The Derryfield School behind a resurgent second-half performance.
The Division I Blue Hawks came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat three-time defending Division II champion Derryfield, 8-7.
The Cougars (12-1) had won 65 straight games entering Friday, which was the longest active winning streak in the country, according to laxrecords.com.
“I’m glad our guys battled,” Exeter coach Gerry Holly said. “I can’t figure out why we can’t play four quarters -- we’ve got to start playing four quarters if we’re going to win games -- but it’s nice to see our kids battled when it mattered.”
Jon Maclean’s second goal of the game gave Derryfield a 4-1 advantage with 7:56 left in the third quarter but the Blue Hawks (10-4) cut the home team’s lead to 5-4 entering the final frame.
Exeter’s Connor Holly scored 53 seconds into the fourth quarter to tie the game at 5-5, which was part of a 5-0 Blue Hawks run. Dayton Christenson scored off an assist from Wyatt Carr to break the five-goal deadlock with 10:37 remaining, giving Exeter its first lead of the game.
The Blue Hawks had an 8-5 advantage after Connor Holly netted his second goal with 5:26 remaining. Derryfield pulled within one on a Henry Howe goal with 1:40 left and had possession with 11.4 seconds remaining but could not pull even.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Derryfield coach Chris Hettler said. “When we go down by three like that, they could have just given up and they fought all the way to the end. I honestly thought we were going to be able to tie it up there at the end.”
Exeter goalie Henry Vogt made 12 saves, eight of which came in the first half.
“We put so much faith in him,” Gerry Holly said of Vogt. “He seems to always stand on his head for us but the defense played well when it mattered and they got intense and really did a good job down there for us.”
The Cougars scored the game’s first three goals and led, 3-1, at halftime by dominating possession in the first quarter and outshooting Exeter, 11-8, in the frame.
After looking flat in the first half, Gerry Holly said, the Blue Hawks played with energy throughout the final two quarters to rally back.
Hettler said Derryfield needed to capitalize on some of its first-half opportunities and would have preferred to go into the break with a few more goals on the Cougars’ side of the scoreboard.
“We’re a really strong team but we are limited in the number of guys that we can play and against a big, physical team like that, it takes a toll on you,” Hettler said. “I felt at halftime that we were going to have to play smart in the second half.”
Christenson finished with a team-high three goals while Connor Holly and Carr each scored twice. Spencer Clark also scored for Exeter. Connor Flanagan won 11 faceoffs, including seven in the second half, for the Blue Hawks.
Maclean had a hat trick while Howe and John Anderson each scored twice for the Cougars. Derryfield goalie Avry Truex made 10 saves.
“I’ve been here 17 years and if you told me we’d be able to get the program to a level where a D-I powerhouse was celebrating on our field like they won a state championship and we won 65 games in a row, I would have said you were crazy,” Hettler said. “I’m just incredibly proud of these guys.”