The Hometown Weekly for all your latest local news and updates! 25 Years of Delivering Your Hometown News!  

Hem, Rockets cruise to South semifinals

[ccfic caption-text format="plaintext"]

By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

After a dominant 18-3 regular season, the Needham High School varsity girls lacrosse team earned the No. 1 overall seed in the MIAA Division I South Sectionals as well as a first-round bye.

On Sunday, the Rockets opened up their 2017 postseason by hosting of No. 8 seed Duxbury (10-10) at Memorial Field. Behind a four-goal first half from sophomore midfielder Callie Hem, Needham cruised to a 13-4 victory to advance to the South semifinals.

Despite the Rockets prevailing by nine goals, Sunday’s victory did not come without adversity, as Duxbury struck first just 51 seconds into the contest on a rebound goal to take a 1-0 lead.

Kendall Milligan (14), Maeve Barker (15), Stephie Vallace (20) and a group of Rockets celebrate Needham’s sixth goal of the game midway through the first half. Photos by Michael Flanagan

Kendall Milligan (14), Maeve Barker (15), Stephie Vallace (20) and a group of Rockets celebrate Needham’s sixth goal of the game midway through the first half. Photos by Michael Flanagan

The Rockets immediately fought back, however, in the form of a 5-0 run. Callie Hem got the goal spree started with 22:51 remaining when she cut to the middle, faked high and shot low to tie the game at one. Less than 40 seconds later at 22:14, sophomore Maeve Barker fed a crisp pass to senior captain Sarah Conley cutting to the cage. Conley fired home a bouncer through the legs of the Duxbury goaltender to give Needham its first lead at 2-1. Just 15 seconds later at 21:59, Barker hooked up with Hem in front of the net on a fast break into the Duxbury zone, and Hem cashed in with a riffle up high to make it a 3-1 Needham lead.

Following the second Callie Hem goal, the Rockets caught a string of bad luck, ringing three posts in a span of six minutes. With 14:05 remaining in the half, however, Conley was finally able to beat the Duxbury goaltender as well as the post on the Duxbury cage with a right-handed shot stick-side, extending Needham’s lead to three at 4-1. Just less than two minutes later with 12:06 remaining in the first half, Hem completed the hat trick when she scooped the rebound of a Stephie Vallace shot and flung it into the back of the net to make it a 5-1 lead for Needham.

Duxbury was able to get one back and make it 5-2 with under nine minutes to play in the half, but all that did was motivate the Rockets to become thirsty for more. With 6:21 left in the half, Vallace dashed in on a free-position restart and fired the ball into the back of the cage off-stick side to give Needham back a four-goal edge at 6-2. Less than a minute later at 5:34, Hem struck again with her fourth goal of the half on a free position to make it 7-2. With 2:17 to play, senior Jessie Hem (sister of Callie) made a pretty left-handed finish on a cut from behind the cage to make it an 8-2 game. With just six seconds to play in the half, Stephie Vallace took the ball from behind the cage, dodged and cut to the middle and finished low on the Duxbury goaltender to make it a seven-goal lead for Needham at the half at 9-2.

The Rockets kept it going in the second half, netting two more goals to extend their lead to nine at 11-2 with 13:47 to play. Duxbury cut the deficit back to 11-4 with a quick 2-0 run, but the Rockets sealed the win with two more goals in a span of 1:20, jumping back out to a nine-goal lead at 13-4 and prevailing by the same score.

Comments are closed.