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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Dover-Sherborn High boys’ lacrosse program has been the preeminent power in Div. 3 and for the past five years the Raiders have been playing on the final day of the season. On Saturday at Boston University’s Nickerson Field, D-S continued its dominance of the division with a complete performance against Central/West champ Grafton.
In a rematch of last year’s championship game, the Raiders clinched a second straight title with a 16-5 victory that was a representation of where D-S stood in comparison to other Div. 3 teams this season. Sophomore Peter Davies led the way with a five goals in the final.
“Everybody was just moving the ball really well,” said Davies, “and the team was just doing great. It was an intense game and we were all playing really hard. That made the difference.
“We know we’re supposed to be the best and we always just try to bring it, play really hard, and play to win.”
The Raiders certainly have as much experience on the biggest stage as any team at any level, but head coach Brian McLaughlin has always insisted that each season and each finals run poses unique challenges.
“The defense is new and new attackmen in different places, so you do different things,” he explained. “The base is the same and there’s different roles and different things.”
Davies got the Raiders off to the perfect start when he scooped up a ground ball in front of goal and finished to make it 1-0 just 1:16 into the opening quarter.
“I just a saw a loose ball, picked it up, and went to the net and scored,” he said. “It was a great start to the game and got everybody going. It definitely gives confidence. Once everyone saw me pick up the ground ball, the whole team was going.”
It took six minutes for the next goal and again it was Davies who stepped into a rip to make it 2-0. Grafton would get one back two minutes later, but the Indians gave away an EMO and the Raiders took advantage. Davies completed his hat trick to give the Raiders a 3-1 lead after one.
“Peter’s been playing great all year,” said McLaughlin. “He’s been improving all year and when he starts moving his feet and coming into the center, he’s a big kid, he’s hard to stop. He’s got a great shot too.”
The goal would spark a big run by the Raiders, who scored the next seven goals to build the lead to nine early in the third. Bailey Laidman got the dominant second quarter started with a low shot off a Will Spangenberg assist, then senior John Hargreaves overpowered his marker to find the back of the net and just 28 seconds later Davies got his fourth to make it 6-1.
“I think we hit a few shots; I think we shot a few erratic to start,” said McLaughlin about the offensive spark in the second quarter. “They were packed in pretty tight, we tried to spread them out a little bit to see if get more dodging alleys and started sticking a few shots.”
Jack Mahoney was given time and space to fire in his first of the afternoon with 4:05 left in the half and then Laidman showed why he is an All-American and a University of North Carolina commit by breaking through a double team and ripping a side-arm shot inside the post.
While the attack continued to dominate, the defense was limiting the Indians to very few chances. Junior goalie Ross Barnard made four of his five saves in the first quarter but was not tested at all in the second.
“Mike Phelan on defense has been a leader back there all year,” said McLaughlin, while talking about his senior class. “He’s really run the defense. We were shaky at the start but they have really come on and you can see it at the end of the year that they’re playing great defense.”
Joe Paolatto won the opening face-off of the second half and assisted on Laidman’s third goal to get the Raiders going again right after the break. Paolatto dominated the face-off ‘X’, winning all but three for the game.
“It certainly helps when you get the ball as much as you do because Joe gets it for you,” said McLaughlin. “Even when he doesn’t get the plant, he’s just battling for the ball and that’s a tribute to how hard he’s worked to get better at it.”
Hargreaves scored his second on a Hunter Gregory assist before Grafton finally got its seconds. Davies sniped the corner to make it 11-2 and Mahoney brushed past his marker to get his second for a 10-goal lead. The Indians scored two in a row but Spangenberg and Mahoney answered right back to make it 14-4 heading to the fourth.
In the final 12 minutes, D-S cruised to the final whistle with Spangenberg scoring a pair of goals sandwiched around one from Grafton. It was a comfortable victory for the Raiders and one that will allow the coach to have another enjoyable summer.
“I’ve lost quite a few, so when you lose it’s a long summer,” he joked.
McLaughlin added, “It feels great. Coming to the state final is stressful, it’s tiring, you worry about different things and weird things. It’s nice to have another win and have it behind you and you can enjoy it for the summer.”