Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rivers Lax Wins First Ever Game at Nobles to Wrap up ISL Season

By Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7)

DEDHAM, Mass. –Ben Churchill left a lasting mark on Rivers lacrosse in his final game.

The Princeton-bound senior goalie stopped 12 of 17 shots on goal to lead the Red Wings (14-4)  in a 12-5 win at Independent School League rival Noble & Greenough, marking the first road win over Nobles (15-4) in program history.

“We didn’t practice like we were out of [ISL] title contention,” Churchill said. “All week we said, ‘Who cares if we’re out of it, we’re going to go out and win this game and cement our legacy,’ and that’s exactly what we did.”

Led by Natick’s Peter Burnes (3 goals), Matt Paul (2 goals, assist) and Thomas Benjes (3 goals), Rivers opened a 7-0 lead by the midpoint of the third quarter as Churchill made several incredible saves to deny Nobles star-studded attack. 

Seniors Charlie Lawrence and Trevor Ballantyne (2 goals) also provided standout efforts, while Aidan Van Duzer controlled possession with a great showing on faceoffs, but the star of the show was Churchill. 

The Wellesley native played through a badly injured thumb all season and still managed to excel in the face of consistent bombardment. He also coached up a young defensive unit that includes four underclassmen, and with sophomore Charles Peck leading the charge, that group put together their best effort of the season.

“They knew what this meant to the seniors so they really, really dug deep,” Rivers coach Justin Walker said of his young defenders. “We practiced really hard for this one because we had never beaten Nobles on their home field, and this senior class just made history.”

On the other side of the field, Lafayette commit McRae Williams (12 saves) kept Nobles in the game with some prolific stops, but he couldn’t match Churchill stride-for-stride in an elite battle.  

“[Churchill] was in the mix for the big postseason accolades, but he needed to punctuate his season and with this performance today, he really solidified his position,” Walker said. 

“He had to come in and earn it, and he earned it. He had one of his best games and that’s what we needed from him because [Williams] is also really good. It was a great showdown, but I think Ben stole that show.”

Churchill watches his offense operate in the second half

This performance certainly puts Churchill in the running for one of the three All-American spots awarded by the ISL after every season. While that would cement his legacy, he’ll also leave a lasting mark by helping to coach up Peck and the other long poles that will be at Rivers for seasons to come. 

“What a game from the guys in front of me,” said Churchill.  “Every one of them were turnover machines, scooping up every ground ball, they fight hard and they’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season.”

The win creates a three-way tie for third place in the ISL between Rivers (12-3 ISL), Nobles (12-3) and Roxbury Latin (12-4, 11-3 ISL) with Nobles still scheduled to host Milton Academy on Friday, May 26.

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