By Tim Lima
---- — Several different tournament brackets happen simultaneously in high school athletics. It is therefore easy to overlook results once your team is eliminated. But in knowing the fate of the team that ended your season, the dismissal from the tournament can gain validation – or perhaps make matters worse.
It’s a debate that seems to arise several times a year: If your team loses, and is therefore eliminated, would you rather see the team you lost to go on to lose immediately or win the championship? While one brings sudden payback, the other makes falling easier to bare.
Lacrosse is a sport that has flourished as of late in this region. Five of six schools from the Cape Ann League’s Kinney Division earned a playoff berth in boys lacrosse while in girls lacrosse four of five and three of five did so in the Baker and Kinney Divisions, respectively.
On the boys end, Newburyport nearly owned the league and its own fate in the tournament by securing the top seed with a strong one-loss regular season. And while the tournament outcome was shy of what was hoped for, with a loss in the regional final game held at World War Memorial Stadium, the Clippers made it farther than any Newburyport boys lacrosse team had previously.
Falling to Hamilton-Wenham 7-6, the Generals would soon after fall in the state semi-finals 10-6 to No. 2 seed Cohasset (15-4). Cohasset will now play for the Division III State Championship against Central/East Division III Champion and top-seed Dover Sherborn (14-3) at Boston University at 7 p.m. tonight.
So, while falling shy of a state title bid, Newburyport can appreciate that their fate, had they beaten the Generals, would be anything but guaranteed as Cohasset and Dover Sherborn are worthy teams that combine for an impressive 24-9 record. While excuses are seldom expressed openly following a season-ending loss, a valid one exists for Newburyport as they were without offensive star and all-time leading goal scorer Matt Kelleher who suffered a knee injury in the second quarter in the semifinals round.
And somehow, Triton and Pentucket fit into the scenario directly.
The Vikings fell in a first-round heartbreaker to Austin Prep, 11-10. Newburyport then ended Prep’s bid at a title before taking out Pentucket in the semifinals.
The Newburyport girls team has earned itself an opportunity to win a state championship by coming from behind and maintaining tight leads. After a first round bye, Port beat Triton, Manchester-Essex and Marblehead to earn a slot in the state tournament bracket. After beating Norwell in the state semi’s, the Clippers will battle Bromfield this morning for the title.
In this area, only two of the most local high schools saw their baseball teams play postseason ball: Pentucket and Georgetown.
The Sachems earned their way to the Division III North baseball tournament’s later rounds the old fashioned way. They hadn’t earned a bye and with the 13th of 20 seeds, its path was anything but simple.
After beating Stoneham in dramatic fashion with a rare extra-innings hit by pitch walk-off in the playoffs, Pentucket bested Charlestown 9-0 before downing Lynnfield 3-1. But, as its playoffs began in dramatic fashion for the better, it ended in a similar way for the worse as they failed to record a hit against a Hamilton-Wenham team that would be ousted just days later by North Reading.
The Hornets would have presented a horrible match-up for any of the local teams, as Newburyport, Triton, Georgetown, Hamilton-Wenham and Amesbury were a combined 0-11 against them this season. North Reading would, however, fall in round one of the state tournament to Bellingham.
Georgetown would not have had to face North Reading, however, as they are the property of Division IV North. After a first-round bye, the Royals beat their next two opponents by a combined 19-4 before being eliminated by Lowell Catholic in the regional finals. The Crusaders would lose in the next round to Pope John, who will face Hopkins for the state championship trophy.
Georgetown should not feel as though an opportunity was wasted, as Pope John appears to be on a mission. At 20-0 this season, it has outscored its tournament opponents by a combined 35-13. Going against a Hopkins team that was 9-9 this season and is a No. 3-seed in what is a far weaker west division, Pope John will soon likely earn some hardware. That game will take place at 3 p.m. this afternoon from Worcester’s Holy Cross.
Softball is a sport that was full of potential this season as Newburyport, Pentucket and Amesbury were involved in postseason play.
Both Newburyport and Pentucket were blanked in the first round, 6-0 and 7-0, respectively. Port would fall to the eventual region champion Tewskbury – who fell to Bellingham in the state semifinals. Pentucket lost to Reading, who would then be ousted by Danvers in the next game.
Amesbury, however, showed promise in Division III. The No. 6 seed of the 22 team tournament Indians rolled early on and won games they should have. After a bye in the first round, Amesbury smashed last seed Weston 17-1, No. 19 seeded Notre Dame (Tyngsboro), 11-2 before squeaking by Lowell Catholic 3-2.
The tournament’s final game involved the Indians and St. Mary’s of Lynn in what was perhaps the toughest loss of any tournament game this season. In losing 8-5, Amesbury lost the opportunity to face the Division III South champion and No. 15 seeded Greater New Bedford team (13-9) for the chance to play for a state title.
Saint Mary’s of Lynn is also a team Amesbury was familiar with this season as the two teams squared off on April 22. While the Indians lost 4-1, the familiarity – something that is rare in the later rounds of a tournament – is an aspect that would only work in favor of an Amesbury team that knows how to win tournament games.
Saint Mary’s shut-out Greater New Bedford and now awaits the state title game against Turners Falls this afternoon at 1 p.m. from Worcester State College.