MANCHESTER, NH – Since Mike Martinez returned to coach the Trinity High School boys lacrosse team eight years ago, the Pioneers have been a model of consistency, reaching the playoffs each season, including 2015, when the Pioneers captured the program’s first championship.
Saturday, Martinez and his boys added a second banner to the decorated Trinity gymnasium wall.
The Pioneers (14-4) earned their latest championship with a 9-6 triumph over Plymouth at Laconia High School’s Bank of New Hampshire Stadium.
“This championship is just a continuation of the hard work and dedication all of my Trinity lacrosse players have had in the program over the last eight years,” said Martinez. “Over that time, we have built a very competitive program … this really helped validate the culture and attitude we have installed here at Trinity.”
Martinez credited sophomore middie Brady Watts for setting the tone for the team from the faceoff dot where he dominated all season.
“When you can have more possession and opportunities than the other team, it’s a definite leg up,” he said.
Of course, having the Division-III Offensive Player of the Year in sophomore standout Tate Flint certainly didn’t hurt.
“It’s an obvious advantage since other teams have to dedicate so much of their defensive resources to him, it makes the other players around him better,” said Martinez.
Among those players who both benefited from playing alongside Flint, while also keeping the defense honest themselves were sophomore Ethan Flannagan and freshman Andrew Overy, who each found the back of the net more than 20 times this season.
In the playoffs, Trinity’s leadership really shined. Dillon Brown, a senior captain, paced the team’s transition game in the midfield, while senior captain Brendan Boss (second-team all-state), junior Mike Evans (second-team all-state) and junior captain Matt Miclette gave the team a strong defensive backbone. Miclette, said Martinez, likely would have been an all-state selection had he not gotten injured and missed the last nine games of the regular season.
Sophomore Nick Guerra also did his job all season and especially in the playoffs where he stopped dozens of shots facing potent attacks from Campbell, Pelham, Hopkinton and Plymouth.
“The balance from front to back was amazing,” said Martinez. “You saw this in the final where Watts, Flint, Brown, and Flannagan each had two goals and an assist with Andrew throwing one in as well and a defense that held Plymouth to just three goals for over three quarters.”
The leadership of Boss and Brown were also key components to Trinity’s success, said Martinez.
“They had been here for two season, ’18 and ’19 , where we had to grind out pretty much all of our games since we just didn’t have a whole lot of talent and they had to step up,” he said.
When Miclette went down, Boss had to move from wing D to crease, while Brown transitioned from his spot at X, where he was a second-team all-stater as a sophomore to two-way middie this season
“Sacrificing their stats in order for this team to be as good as it could be speaks volumes about these two young men,” said Martinez. “(Backup goalie) Dillon Purdy didn’t play in the playoffs, but turned himself into a more-than-serviceable goalie. If you had seen him as a sophomore, to say it was an adventure would be an understatement, but even if Nick had gone down, we would have been OK with Dillon (in net).”
The team’s fourth senior, defenseman Cam Laventure, playing in his first lacrosse season, proved a nice depth piece, but also brought joy and positivity to the sidelines and the field everyday, said Martinez.
Heading into 2022, Martinez will not only have to replace his four seniors, but also Watts, who heads to prep school at Kimball Union Academy. Luckily, Evans, who won 61-percent of his faceoffs while Watts was out with an injury, is prepared to step in as the team’s primary faceoff man.
“So just like we have since ’14 , the goals will remain the same: train hard in the offseason, work on getting stronger and then go into the season with the expectation that we will finish in the top eight and qualify for playoffs,” said Martinez. “And then we will work just like this year to continually get better and fix the problems we have in order to try to make a run at another championship.”