North Kingstown boys' lacrosse wins state title
The North Kingstown High School boys' lacrosse team had a long hard road ahead of them when they began their season in March, but it all fell into place for the Skippers on Sunday, as they secured their spot as the RIIL Division I State Champions.
"This is incredible," said senior defenseman and islander Dan Page. "We've worked so hard to get where we are today."
The last time North won a state title in boys' lacrosse was in 2006. The team was confident heading into the finals against La Salle as the Skippers were the only team to beat the Rams all season. Islander Ben Schmidt said, "We knew we could beat them going in."
The state title was decided at Rhode Island College on Sunday and the game started in favor of LaSalle, as the Rams scored two goals in the first two minutes of play. The Skippers weren't about to let this slow them down, as they fought back with goals by senior All-American Greg Fallon, and sophomore Ryan Merz to tie the game.
North took control of the game through the half, scoring six more goals against La Salle, including one by Schmidt, while the Rams scored twice in 20 seconds. The Skipper defense tried to cover La Salle's offense attack, and North seniors Peterson, Matt Maroni and Riley O'Brien stopped more than their fair share of Ram shots.
In his typical fashion, Skipper goalie Matt Lamendola was seen far outside his comfort zone of the goal, bringing the ball far up the field to pass to his teammates. North received a penalty late in the first half, one of many, but that didn't stop senior Dan Ballou from ripping two shots in goal, bringing the score to 8-4. To end the first half on a high note, All-American junior Ben Sternberg shot a high and outside goal to finish the half at 9-4.
LaSalle started to get desperate and they got more physical, as their strong defense marked the likes of Fallon and Sternberg, and they received numerous slashing penalties. LaSalle scored while man-up against the Skippers 2:17 into the half, but the Skippers quickly retaliated with three more goals of their own, including one by Schmidt, bringing the score to 12-5.
Even a LaSalle goal in the fi- nal 10 seconds of the third quarter wasn't enough to stop the Skippers. The final quarter got messy and very physical as both teams were served slashing and tripping penalties.
The Rams started to gain momentum with three unanswered goals at the start of the fourth quarter, shooting at Lamendola from very close range. Two of those saves were shots from point blank. Coach John Holmes described Lamendola as "on fire."
Fallon, who later received the prestigious title of game MVP, squeezed a goal in with less then three minutes remaining. It was La Salle who had the last word, scoring the final goal in the game, but it was not enough to beat the Skippers, who defeated the Rams 13-10. "The kids did a really nice job. It was a pretty good victory. I think we beat them pretty handily all around," Holmes said.
The Skippers' euphoria as they rushed the field was contagious as they piled atop each other screaming. Starting attack Andy Paolucci described the game. "(It was) absolutely amazing. We couldn't be happier. We played a great game and I wouldn't have wanted to finish
out senior year any other way." Starters in the finals included islanders Nadeau, Schmidt, and Alex Seidler. Defenseman Page was also a key player in the game and Andrew Bretti and Ryan Mc- Dermott rounded out the varsity roster of the R.I. state champion Skippers lacrosse team.
North started the playoffs with an easy quarterfinal game against Providence Country Day with a final score of 16-8. The semifinal match up was not so easy. North took on defending state champion Bishop Hendricken, after losing both regular season contests.
North was down by one going into the half, 4-3, but did not give the Hawks a chance to capitalize in the second half. According to spectators, North not only took control of the game, they really took control of the ball after a sloppy first half. Holmes said, "We weren't doing the things we needed to do and we were in the penalty box a lot in the second quarter, so we knew if we settled things down and moved the ball up the field like we knew we could we would be in pretty good shape."
Nadeau had one goal and one assist and the Skippers won with a final score of 9-7. The last two goals of the game were scored by Paolucci of North Kingstown. Holmes said, "Overall, we played a pretty good game. It is always good to beat Hendricken. We were down 4-3 at half time, and then we scored six straight goals to close it out. They scored a couple of goals at the end but the game was pretty much over at that point." This was the first time in the short history of high school lacrosse that the Hawks were not in the title game.