Nashoba Surges Past LHS
LEOMINSTER — The Nashoba Regional boys’ lacrosse team put an end to a two-game losing skid and prevented host Leominster from clinching a spot in the postseason thanks to solid team defense and a troika of hat tricks, as the Chieftains downed the Blue Devils, 10-4, at historic Doyle Field Tuesday afternoon.
Nashoba improved to 11-5 with the win after two close losses to St. Bernard’s on Monday and Littleton last Thursday. Meanwhile, Leominster fell to 8-8 with two games left; Friday’s game with Fitchburg was forfeited in favor of the Blue and White.
LHS has to beat either Tyngsboro on Thursday or Wachusett Regional next Tuesday to clinch a postseason berth.
“We have to put 48 minutes together,” Leominster coach Colin Davis said. “Twenty-four minutes, 36 minutes against a team like Nashoba is not going to get it done. We need it.”
Leominster had battled to take a 3-2 lead nearing the midway point of the second quarter, but Nashoba — which registered hat tricks out of Aiden Lee, Rory Boots, and Michael Henderson — fought back and controlled a great deal of the tempo from then on out, with Boots spinning and snapping ankles before delivering the game-tying goal with 1:17 remaining in the first half.
Lee would pull off a similar move a minute later, scoring off it to take a 4-3 lead into the intermission.
The Chieftains did not stop there, scoring two more times in the third, with Boots striking from 20 yards away to make it 5-3 with his hat trick-clinching goal, before Lee recorded his hat trick with a bouncing strike.
“I don’t want to use the term Energizer Bunny, but he just goes,” Nashoba coach Matt Biggs said of Lee, a junior. “He goes and goes and never complains. He’s a junior leader who has really stepped up and emerged as a leader. Verbally, he does it with his play.
“It was team defense, too. It wasn’t one person throwing takeaway checks. It was everyone helping out.”
Henderson scored his hat trick within four minutes in the fourth quarter, punctuating it with a goal that sent him into a tumbling sprawl, before Lee capped off his scoring 11 seconds later.
Leominster’s LJ Van Molle snapped the Chieftains’ run with a goal in the final 75 seconds of the game.
The two sides had traded goals, with Lee scoring first on a wraparound tally.
A minute and a half later, an interesting sequence saw LHS goaltender Kenny Aubuchon (12 saves) cradling the ball near to the midway line before Anthony Larson came onto the field.
Aubuchon passed to Larson, who would eventually find Adam Couch. Couch passed to Cam Dewolf, who scored from 15 yards away to pull level, 1-1.
Boots then opened his account for the game as he came from behind Aubuchon and popped it it in with two Blue Devil defenders in his face.
Zack Moran pulled Leominster level again on a Larson helper, tucking it in at the post, but not long afterward, Aubuchon got involved again, this time bringing the ball over the midway line before passing to Moran.
Moran found Nathan Taylor, who scooped and scored to give Leominster a 3-2 lead.
But Nashoba would prevent the Blue Devils from getting any closer, and controlled the tempo with shots, possession and winning the ground-ball battle.
“It was patience,” Biggs said. “We’re really a run-and-gun type of team which keeps going and going and going. (Monday against St. Bernard’s), it took us a while to get our legs under us.
“We’ve developed a nice little rivalry with Leominster; we’re bordering towns, it’s the way it should be. Knowing where (Leominster) stands in the rankings is helpful for young man’s motivation, but it’s a great to have a quality win.”
Kam Gilchrest had 11 saves in goal for Nashoba.
“They have a good defense and a good goalie, and I think their defensive midfield, the short sticks, they did a great job,” Davis said. “Those guys are good core players for them, and they locked it down.”