NEWBURYPORT — Down a goal with six seconds left, Newburyport midfielder JJ Bajko had one last chance to tie the game and keep the Clippers’ season alive.
But he was never able to get a shot off as Hamilton-Wenham defenseman Jimmy Littlefield ripped the stick out of his hands, securing the 7-6 win for his team.
“It was a clean play,” said Newburyport coach Ed Gaudiano. “They put one of their longstick defenders on him and he was able to poke check when JJ made a move to go to the net.”
The final play came after Hamilton-Wenham (14-5) took a penalty, giving Newburyport (17-2) a golden opportunity to complete a late game comeback on the man advantage.
But it wasn’t meant to be, and as a result, the Clippers boys lacrosse team saw their season end in disappointment. The Generals will now move on to face south champion Cohasset in the state semifinals on Wednesday at Woburn High School.
Coming into the game, each team expected a tight, low-scoring affair akin to their last meeting on May 10, which Newburyport won 11-10 in double overtime.
Both teams also came into the game without two of their top scorers, as Newburyport was missing junior attacker and leading scorer Matt Kelleher, who went down in Wednesday’s North Semifinal with a knee injury.
Hamilton-Wenham was playing without star sophomore and University of North Carolina commit Cam Macri, who suffered a season-ending thumb injury in early May.
“I think we would have approached the game differently [had Kelleher been available],” Gaudiano said. “You can’t take 80 goals off the field without having to change anything, so obviously that was something that went against us.”
Without Kelleher, Newburyport needed its other stars to step up, and none did so more than senior defenseman Drew Bourdeau.