Call it a struggle; call it a scuffle. Either way it was a classic.
The Concord-Carlisle boys lacrosse team survived a torrent of fourth-quarter goals from Wellesley to win the Eastern Massachusetts Division 2 crown 5-4 yesterday in front of a loud crowd at Harvard Stadium.
The Patriots advance to tomorrow’s state final against Algonquin. The game will be played at Foley Field in Worcester.
Wellesley senior Oliver Saffery scored the lone goal of the first quarter. The Raiders dominated the possession and tempo of the period, but the Patriot defense did enough to fend them off.
“It was real nerve-wracking in the first six minutes,” Concord-Carlisle coach Tom Dalicandro said. “I thought we were throwing the ball away; they were pressing us. We looked really nervous.”
The Patriots answered 10 seconds into the second quarter when senior Tyler Koning found the twine. Junior Chris Painter bookended the period with a goal with 23 seconds before halftime to give Concord-Carlisle a lead it would never relinquish.
Concord senior goalie, and Air Force-commit, Doug Gouchoe turned aside eight shots in the win.
Concord came out flying in the second half. Freshman Will Blumenberg and senior Jackson Finigan scored in the opening minute to energize the Concord faithful.
“In this kind of a game a 4-1 lead is huge,” Dalicandro said.
Junior Tim Badgley added a goal five minutes into the third to give the Patriots a comfortable four-goal lead…or so they thought.
First it was sophomore John Caraviello at the 5:14 mark of the fourth quarter to make a 5-2 game. Senior co-captain Peter Crane added another 3:16 later to make it a 5-3 game.
Finally, Saffery whipped a shot low and hard that found its way past Concord’s Doug Gouchoe to electrify the Wellesley fans and make a one-goal Concord lead with 31 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Wellesley coach Rocky Batty summed up the way his team performed in the fourth quarter with one word: heart.
“We able to take the ball away a few times, we won a few ground balls,” Batty said. “That’s a good team. Can’t say enough about Concord.”
Crane, who will play lacrosse next year at Williams College, said that he’ll miss the camaraderie of suiting up with his teammates in the red and black.
“One of the things we stressed this year was that this was a family and that we wanted to be close to each other,” Crane said. “We win as a team and we lose as team, and to be a Raider means dedication, commitment and hard work.”
Concord won the ensuing face-off and bled the clock to lock up the victory.
“It’s unbelievable; it’s surreal right now,” Finigan said. “We’re 21-0 right now, and I’m just so proud of the boys. That was a solid team effort.
“The last couple of years we’ve been talking about how we wanted to get to Harvard. This year we were talking about how we wanted to get through Harvard. We’re going right through Harvard, and getting out to Worcester and win the whole thing.