Friday, June 15, 2018

Austin Prep tops Ipswich for First Ever Sectional Crown

By Michael Abelson (@ABELS0N)

Woburn, Mass. -- It was a night for history at Woburn High, as the Austin Prep boys lacrosse team rolled to its first ever sectional crown, knocking off defending state champion Ipswich 13-7 to win the Division 3 North title.

The Cougars jumped the Tigers from the start, racing out to a 4-0 lead and never looking back.

Austin Prep won thanks to its diverse, relentless offense. Five different Cougars scored led by four goals each from freshman Zach Barden and sophomore Michael Chabra. Chabra also had a pair of assists.

Senior tri-captain Jack Richards and fellow senior Joe O’Connor each had a pair of goals.

Austin Prep outscored and outshot Ipswich in every quarter except the fourth.

“They’re awesome guys, and it as a team effort,” Austin Prep coach Peter Smyth said of Barden and Chabra. “You can’t account for just them because the juniors and seniors take over. It’s really a team effort. Depending on the game depended on which kid stepped up this year. Chabra had his games. Richards had his games. Today it was Chabra and Barden.”

The Cougars outshot Ipswich 35-19, and kept the Tigers from establishing any rhythm. Ipswich didn’t string together two straight goals until midway through the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

Junior goalie Jimmy Theriault quarterbacked the Cougar defense with a five-save performance. Senior captains Nick Hampoian and J.J. Harding led the poles in disrupting the Ipswich offense which in turn helped generate 17 Tiger turnovers.

“Jimmy Theriault is unbelievable; stood on his head all year,” Richards said. “Captains [Hampoian] and JJ Harding are great players. We had a great team defense.”

Austin Prep led 4-1 after a quarter and 8-2 at halftime. The Cougars led 13-4 1:27 into the fourth quarter when Richards scored his second.

The Cougars won ground ball battle 25-17, and converted on both their man-up situations.

Senior captains Kevin Swenson and Pat Gillis each had a pair of goals for Ipswich, and senior goalie Aidan McAdams turned aside eight shots.

“We lost to them last year, so it was nice to get a little revenge, but that’s a hell of a program,” Smyth said. “They’re going to be here for years to come.”

The win sends Austin Prep to its first state semifinal, where it will play powerhouse Cohasset on Tuesday night at Peabody High.

“I think we just have to prepare the way that we prepared today,” Smyth said of Tuesday night. “Play our game and see what they do. Key on their key players and take away what they want to do. If we can do that it’ll be a game.”

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