Saturday, June 17, 2017

Ipswich Boys' Lax Edges Grafton in Thrilling D3 State Final

By Mike Abelson (@ABELS0N)

BOSTON - In the 14 years since the MIAA created Division 3 for boys lacrosse every final has featured either Dover-Sherborn or Cohasset except for the first final in 2003.

That was won by Ipswich by a goal. 

On Saturday evening,  the Tigers once again found a way to win as they battled back from one goal down midway through the fourth to defeat Grafton 8-7 and win the Division 3 crown at Nickerson Field.

“I figured we were about as identical as you could get as far as strengths and weaknesses were,” Ipswich head coach Glenn Foster said. “I thought on paper we were as equal as we could be, and that’s what it was.”

Down one with 5:12 to goal the Tigers found that boost they needed to get by the Indians. Kilian Morrissey scored to tie the game and Pat Gillis added another 90 seconds later to put Ipswich ahead with just under four minutes left.

Ipswich continued to make possessions count down the stretch as Tommy Ginolfi scored his second of the game with 1:58 left to give Ipswich a two-goal cushion that it would manage to cling to in the game’s final seconds.

Morrissey finished with a hat trick in his final game in the black and orange.

“It was a back and forth game the entire time,” Morissey said. “Once you get down by one it kind of makes you kick into a second gear, and you know you have to score another goal or make another stop. Putting that one in [in the fourth] was a huge confidence boost for our team, and we knew going forward it was our game. Once we put those two goals in [late] we knew that we had it.”

Neither team ever really took control of the game. Grafton opened the scoring 1:07 into the game and Ipswich responded less than two minutes later, and the game ebbed and flowed similarly throughout.

The Grafton offense was led by a dominant performance from senior Brendan Coates. The senior had four goals for the Indians and was in control on the attacking end of the field whenever he had the ball in his stick. Anthony D’Angelo was a jack of all trades for Grafton with fives assists and a goal.

The game took a slow turn in the third quarter as neither team scored as the defenses locked it down before giving away to the manic fourth quarter.

“I knew this wasn’t going to be a high-scoring affair,” Foster said. “I know they got some good defensemen, their goalie’s pretty good. I was just hoping we could get to the end and be ahead so you can do a little clock killing.”

Both goalies were sensational. Matt Nicalek turned aside 10 shots in cage for Grafton while Aidan McAdams stopped eight, including three in the fourth quarter, for the Tigers.


The championship win was the cherry on top of a magical season for the Tigers after two straight years of almost getting to the top. Two straight North sectional titles in 2015 and 2016 ended in defeat in the state semifinals, including a 10-9 double overtime loss to Grafton in 2015.

Now, for Morrissey, Ginolfi, and the rest of this senior class, the mountain has been summited.

“I’ve never felt this in my entire life,” Morrissey said. “This is a dream come true. As a freshman coming in you dream that your team can make the state championship. Not only did we make it but we won the whole thing.”


Alan Rotatori has turned Grafton into one of, if not the top, division three program west of 495. His Indians have been among the state’s most consistent, and talented teams for years, but for the third straight year the season ends in the final game but without the top trophy.

Seniors like Coates, D’Angelo leave behind a legacy of success and a cumulative record of 72-24 in their four years wearing the green and white. More than that, they’ve built a culture of winning in Grafton that should continue to grow in the future.

“I think my underclassmen are more sad for the seniors [about] the actual game tonight,” Grafton coach Alan Rotatori said. “This has been a really incredible experience as a coach, and all the kids on the team have so much respect for this senior group. It wasn’t three captains on this team; it was seven leaders. And whatever title they brought doesn’t matter. They have left, and will leave, an imprint on this program for years to come. All these underclassmen have had the most valuable experience they will ever, ever have. They’ll be able to appy this to next year’s season and the life beyond.”


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