Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hingham Defeats Longmeadow for D2 Boys Lax State Title

By Brendan Hall (@BHallESPN)

BOSTON – Hingham head coach John Todd didn’t hesitate to call this year’s Harbormen squad “The best team we’ve ever had here” repeatedly following Saturday’s MIAA Division 2 State Final at Nickerson Field, and anyone who followed the team this spring would be hard-pressed to disagree.

And so after all those years of heartbreak – all those state championship game letdowns, all those epic overtime losses to Medfield, all those years coming up just a goal or two short – Todd conceded a sense of relief in being able to capture the program’s first title in 15 years, with his best senior class ever, in such dominating fashion, routing Western Mass. juggernaut Longmeadow 16-7.

“You can call it relief. We’ve been chasing this for a long time,” Todd said. “But to get over the hump in this style is just awesome.”

The Harbormen (23-3) make no apologies for the breakneck pace they seek to set early in games, and Saturday’s first quarter was an exercise in blitzkrieg. Hingham needed just nine seconds to draw first blood, with senior attack Jack Hennessy (four goals, three assists) winning the opening faceoff and sprinting downfield to beat goalie Josh Zak on the run.

Less than a minute later, William Kenney made it 2-0 by curling around the back of the next and bulling through a double-team to go top-shelf. After Spencer Robbins got one back for Meadow, off a feed from Noah Skole, the Harbormen unfurled an avalanche with five straight goals, featuring some nifty assists from X by Hennessy.

“That’s the way we play, we weren’t going to change that,” Todd said. “They [Longmeadow] were an extremely well-coached team, with a storied history, their coach does and unbelievable job, they had a phenomenal win against Medfield. We just knew that was the way we were gonna play, and they were gonna have to adjust to us, and we’re lucky to have the ability to play like that.”

Longmeadow (21-4) was never able to muster enough offense to close the gap the rest of the way, trailing 7-2 at the half and 11-3 after three quarters. Senior attack Marc O’Rourke (four goals) put a nice bow on the win early in the fourth when he scored twice in a span of 13 seconds, first an underhanded catch-and-finish, then a laser of a snipe from just outside of the arc.

While Meadow was able to hold its own in the faceoff circle (10 wins, to the Harbormen’s 13), Hingham dominated in their defensive end, outgaining the Lancers 23-10 on ground balls and inducing seven failed clears, to just two by themselves.

“Nobody quits,” Todd said. “We’re gonna contest every ground ball, every pass. We’re going to make you earn it when you cross midfield, and then we want to turn the ball over at midfield again and again. It’s just characteristic of what we’ve been doing the last two and a half years.”

All in all, not a bad way for the Harbormen to close out their run in the MIAA’s second division, as they’re set to move into D1 for the 2018 season. Asked what kind of table a dominant showing like this sets for next season, Todd pointed to an already ambitious non-league schedule that includes many of the top heavyweights from Massachusetts as well as Connecticut and New Jersey.

“Sure, next year there may be one or two more games that we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for, and on any given day anyone can beat anybody,” Todd said. “You have a great Xaverian team, which has a tough schedule but plays tough and was knocking people off…obviously we play Duxbury, we play Lincoln-Sudbury, we play Needham, we play everyone that makes the D1 tournament anyway.”

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