Derryfield headed back to the ‘ship

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Stacy Harrison photo.

NASHUA, NH – The St. Thomas Aquinas High School boys lacrosse team did something that few teams have been able to do this season. They held a lead against Derryfield School.

That reality, however, lasted less than 30 seconds.

Down 1-0 after roughly 6 minutes of play, the second-ranked Cougars pounced, scoring three-consecutive goals to take a 3-1 advantage into the second frame, where they extended that lead to 6-1, and then held off the sixth-ranked Saints’ aggressive attack throughout the second half to secure a 10-3 victory during the Division-II semifinals at Nashua’s Stellos Stadium Wednesday.

“I could see in the opening minutes we were going to have good looks. We kind of prepared for what they were going to do defensively, and they did,” said Derryfield head coach Chris Hettler, “but I’m really proud of my goalie, Parker (Lebiedz) and the defense today. That’s a team that’s been putting up well over 10 points a game, and for them to play with that kind of effort for 48 minutes today was incredible.”

That effort meshed perfectly with the game plan, which was to clear the ball and play strong defense, said Hettler, who knew the goals would eventually come.

Tate Flint, who got the scoring started for Derryfield, led the team in scoring with three goals and an assist, while Alex Murray found the back of the net three times, Chili Cabot scored once and assisted on five goals, RJ Proulx produced a goal and a helper, and then Brady Doldo and Quinn Silvio each added tallies to the winning effort.

Logan Purvis won 18 of 21 faceoffs, an Lebiedz had six saves.

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Stacy Harrison photo.

Now, Derryfield has a chance to earn its first state championship since 2019.

To do so, the Cougars will have to defeat two-time defending champion Portsmouth, which beat them in last year’s title tilt, 16-10. The Clippers also served up Derryfield’s lone setback of the season, 9-8, at Portsmouth on May 11.

Not that the Cougars needed additional motivation.

“These guys are super driven, they’ve put in the work all season, they wanted a chance to get back to the championship game,” said Hettler. “They got that chance, and we’re going to do everything we can to try to finish things off the way they want, but these guys are excited, they’re confident, and it’s going to be a great game Sunday.”

Derryfield, which finished the regular season with a 16-1 record before earning back-to-back playoff victories over Oyster River-Newmarket and then St. Thomas, shares Portsmouth’s 18-1 record. The Clippers defeated fourth-ranked Windham, 11-4, Wednesday to setup the championship rematch.

As nice as another banner would be for Hettler and the program itself, he said taking the Division-II crown back would be the icing on the cake for the Cougars seniors who missed their freshman season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and fell short of their championship aspirations the last two seasons.

“To me it doesn’t take away from anything they’ve done, and I’ve tried to explain that to them, but sure, as competitors, you want to leave winning your last game. I think it would be incredible,” he said. “I think it would be a great story for them. They’ve been building for three years. You know, COVID hurt our culture and losing that year lost development of kids, and they’ve been working hard for two years and I’m really excited that as seniors they get a chance to finish it off hopefully the way they want to.”

The championship game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Exeter High School’s Bill Ball Stadium.

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Stacy Harrison photo.

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About this Author

Ryan O'Connor

As a longtime journalist in Southern New Hampshire, Ryan O'Connor has written for several local online and print publications covering everything from school board meetings and local high school sporting events to major crime stories and New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary (yes, the last two are mutually exclusive). In addition to spending time with his beautiful wife and four amazing children, Ryan enjoys attending and serving at church, golfing as much as possible, home brewing, playing softball and snowboarding when time allows.