By Max Clifford
Hometown Weekly Reporter
Babson College’s MacDowell field was the site of a “three-peat” on Sunday afternoon as the Dover-Sherborn High School Girls Varsity Lacrosse team secured their third consecutive MIAA Division IV state championship, a 10-9 victory over top-seeded Ipswich.
The third-seeded Raiders walked into the championship game with four dominant tournament wins under their belt. Their closest finish of the postseason was a 20-12 victory over second-seeded Weston in the state semifinals.
It was clear from the game’s first possession that Ipswich would be Dover-Sherborn’s toughest test. With just 70 seconds ticked off the clock the Ipswich offense found the game’s first goal. The Tigers would stretch the 1-0 lead to 3-0 with just under 18 minutes remaining in the half.
When asked how she and her teammates moved past the early deficit, Dover-Sherborn goalie Kathryn Mahoney credited her team’s experience in high-pressure situations. “We had to remember we’ve been down before and come back,” she said, “for me, as a goalie, I let goals in all the time. What’s different about these ones?”
Just over a minute later, the Raiders’ offense got on the board. After her initial goal was waved off, Magdalena Rieper repossessed the ball and made good, finding the back of the net for her team’s first goal. On the following possession, with Ipswich missing a player due to a penalty, Dover-Sherborn took advantage. Mia Guarini bounced in a goal from close range to cut the deficit to 3-2.
The offensive awakening for Dover-Sherborn was thanks in large part to Riley Spalding’s performance on draw controls, earning possessions for her squad at the center circle. With her team now trailing 4-2, Spalding joined in on the scoring herself, cutting the lead back to one, 4-3.
Ipswich’s Halle Greenleaf, whose goal-scoring abilities warranted face guarding from Dover-Sherborn defenders on every possession, grabbed a rebound off of a teammate’s missed eight-meter shot and scored to finish her first half hat trick, sending her team into halftime with a 5-3 lead.
The Raiders got to work quickly in the second half. The first possession of the frame ended with Spalding’s second goal of the afternoon. On the following sequence, Rieper took a pass from Guarini to the goal, tying the game at five with just under 23 minutes to play.
Dover-Sherborn’s first lead of the game came from the stick of Eloisa Luczkow, who put the Raiders ahead 6-5 with just over 21 minutes remaining in the half.
A momentous save from Mahoney on an eight-meter attempt turned into an offensive possession for the Raiders. Spalding capitalized on the opportunity once again, using her exceptional height to score over the head of the Ipswich goalie.
The Dover-Sherborn lead climbed to 9-5 with just under 14 minutes left to play, but the Tigers did not go quietly. A 3-0 Ipswich run cut the lead to one.
Ava Hatfield’s first goal of the day was an important one, stretching the Dover-Sherborn lead to two scores, if only for a minute before the Tigers’ response. With three minutes remaining in the game, the Raiders held a narrow 10-9 advantage.
Ipswich won the draw control following their ninth goal and threatened to tie the game with their tenth. The Tigers’ best shot once again found the stick of Mahoney, who strategically burned clock before finding a teammate to move the ball into offensive territory.
As the final horn sounded, Dover-Sherborn fans erupted into celebration as the Raiders dogpiled on top of their goalie. The team’s third consecutive state championship was hotly contested throughout, ending with a 10-9 victory.
With her team donning their state championship medals and celebrating with family members in the background, head coach Erin Massimi emphasized the importance of her experienced offensive unit stepping up to support her young defense. “The best part of our team this year has been the draw and our offense,” she said, “Ipswich played a great game and really wore down our [defense]. In the second half we found the burst with winning the draw and putting the
ball in the back of the net.”