BILLERICA — For a little over a quarter the Shawsheen Tech Boys Lacrosse team looked like they might be on the verge of an upset in their matchup with Newburyport in the first round of the MIAA Division 3 North Sectional Tournament on Tuesday afternoon at the Charles H. Lyons Athletic Complex.
The seventh seeded Rams and the tenth seeded Clippers battled to a 1-1 at the end of the first quarter and after a couple of early second period goals the Rams held a 3-1 advantage and were looking good. Unfortunately however for the Rams it was not to be, as Newburyport came storming back, scoring the final five goals of the first half to take a 6-3 halftime lead on their way to a 16-7 win.
The loss ends CAC champion Shawsheen’s season with a record of 15-5 overall, (13-1 in the CAC), while Newburyport improved to 9-8 and will take on No. 2 seed Austin Prep in the sectional quarterfinals on Friday.
Regardless of seeding and records, a win by Shawsheen over a traditional public school power like Newburyport would have been an upset. And it looked it was a possibility when the Rams took their 3-1 lead with 6:53 left in the first half on a goal by junior midfielder Conor Rooney of Wilmington. The Rams, however, were unable to sustain their success.
“When we got up 3-1 I think the kids looked at it and though the game was over,” Shawsheen coach Chuck Baker said. “We were playing very solid defensively, which we were struggling with at times during the season, so I was proud of the way that we started, but then we just kind of started falling apart, and once we fell apart and faced some adversity, they don’t deal with it well.”
That adversity included Newburyport scoring the next nine goals overall to take a 6-3 lead into the half and a 10-3 lead midway through the third quarter before Rooney finally broke the run with the third of his four goals of the game. But by then, it was too little, too late for the Rams.
“The same thing happened when we played Austin Prep (in the regular season),” Baker said. “We played a solid game with them, and we were pretty even with them, but we let them go on a run. One you let a team go on a run, especially in a state tournament game, it is very hard to come back from that.”
After Rooney had made the score 10-4, Newburyport responded with two quick goals to make it 12-4 and the Rams never got any closer than seven goals the rest of the way.
The next two goals for the Rams were scored by senior long pole Ryan Quionones on virtually identical plays where he rifled a hard shot from 15-20 yards out past the stunned Newburyport goalie. The goals weren’t enough to bring the Rams back, but they were impressive nonetheless, and indicative of the type of talent that Quinones brings to the field.
“Ryan shows up every day and plays hard,” Baker said. “Ryan loves the sport. He is one of the true athletes we have had come through here and his heart is on the field. He wants to be here and he wants to win, and you just hope that everyone else follows suit.”
In addition to Rooney’s four goals and Quinones two, sophomore Dan Lee of Tewksbury had the other Rams goal. It was not enough, however, and after the game Baker was able to reflect on what was, despite Tuesday’s loss, another successful season for the Rams.
Not only did Shawsheen win their fourth straight CAC title, this time sharing it with Essex Tech, they also had some big non-league wins to their credit this season.
“I look at the league and it is not that solid, but at least we did take care of business there which is always great to do,” Baker said. “We had two early season non-league wins over Belmont and Bedford, which was awesome. Those were great wins for us. We got crushed by Dracut, but in my eyes they are potentially the best team in the north and then we played Austin and we battled them. The score didn’t show it, but we battled them hard until we let them go on a run.”
While looking back, Baker was also able to look ahead to next season. While the Rams lose Quinones, as well as leading scorer Owen Sullivan, who had 68 goals this season, they bring back a very solid ore, including Rooney, who had 58 goals on the season, Lee, who had 26 goals, freshman attack Dylan Timmons of Wilmington with 25 goals and junior midfielder Dave Fraser of Wilmington, who had 24 goals.
“There were a lot of bright sides to the season, and we return a ton of juniors next season,” Baker said. “We lose Ryan with the pole, which hurts and we lose Owen, but realistically we bring back most of the team. We are a junior, sophomore laden team.
“We also lost some kids to injury which hurt, and they will be back next season, so I think we are set up to have another good season.”
The Rams had five members of their team, as well as two alternates, named to the CAC All-Star team. The game will be played next Friday night, June 14 at the home of the Rams, the Charles H. Lyons Athletic Complex.
The Rams All-Stars included CAC MVP Conor Rooney of Wilmington, CAC Offensive Player of the year Owen Sullivan, freshman attack Dylan Timmons of Wilmington, junior midfielder Dave Fraser of Wilmington and senior long stick middle Ryan Quinones.
Alternates for the Rams are sophomore midfielder Dan Lee of Tewksbury and senior midfielder Logan Singleton.