HANOVER – The Hanover and Scituate High boys lacrosse teams will not be rematching in the sectional finals this spring.
Talent will not be the reason why.
Both teams showcased their potential in a Patriot League battle on Thursday. Scituate shook off a three-goal run to defeat Hanover, 10-8, in a competitive game from start to finish.
Both programs enter the spring with high expectations following deep postseason runs in 2021. The Sailors, who only had one senior on last year’s team, won the Division 2 South Sectional title (a wild 20-16 win over Hanover), before falling in the state semifinals. The Hawks shook off a 5-7 regular-season record and a No. 13 seed to win three games in the tournament.
A rematch won’t happen for two reasons. The MIAA has done away with sectional tournaments, instead opting for a statewide tournament. And the new tournament alignments have put the Patriot League rivals in different divisions (Scituate is Division 2, Hanover is Division 3).
Sullivans have Scituate feeling swell
Brothers James and Chris Sullivan controlled the game on both ends for the Sailors on Thursday. Chris, a senior captain and returning Patriot Ledger All-Scholastic, was a disruptive force in the defensive end. He even chipped in a critical goal when he caused a turnover in the offensive end and then scored on an abandoned net to give the Sailors an 8-7 lead in the fourth quarter. James, a sophomore, was the spark igniting Scituate’s offense with four goals and two assists.
“James is a special player, he really is,” said Scituate coach Mark Puzzangara. "I know he had a kind of coming-out party last year. He almost had 40 goals last year. This year he’s definitely one of the top attackmen. His hands are incredible, he’s just a big body. He’s very smooth and he’s only getting better.”
Chris Sullivan will be one of the anchors of Scituate’s biggest strength – its defense.
“(Our defense) is led by Chris Sullivan, you’ve got two outstanding LSMs (long-stick midfielders) with Johnnie Donahue and Alex Burrill and then you throw Law Quinn in there," Puzzangara said. "All of these guys play competitive club and they know how to handle themselves in pressure situations. When you mix that with an experienced goaltender (Reid Fulton), one of the top face-off guys in Eastern Mass. with Quinn Gannon, I think that’s our strength right now. Get possession, get it down to our offense and work it from there.”
“Those are some of the best D-poles that we’re going to play against, ever,” Hanover coach Shawn Tierney said of Scituate. “They all just happen to be on one team.”
The Sailors were one of the youngest teams around last year and that won’t change much this year. Half of Scituate’s attack is made up of freshmen in Will Robinson, Quinn DeCourcey and Owen Hofford. Hofford scored his first two varsity goals. The first pushed Scituate’s lead to 6-4 with four seconds left in the first half and the other was an insurance tally with 28 seconds left to seal the win.
“How about the play of Owen Hofford?” said Puzzangara. “He scored his first two goals of the year. Those are two really big goals that he scored.
“We’re very fortunate to have a lot of guys back from last year’s team, but it’s still a different group. With those new freshman – the Willie Robinsons, the Quinn DeCourceys – they’re contributing and they’re playing at a high level. They’re not making mistakes and they’ve got a lot of confidence, which a lot of freshmen don’t have. These come in, they want the ball, which is exciting to see.”
Scituate’s other captains are Joe Cahill, Gannon and Garrett Wasserman. Cahill scored a goal against Hanover, and Gannon won 7-of-9 second-half faceoffs.
The Sailors will be without junior midfielder Dan Brown. Brown, who was a pivotal player last season, sustained an injury during the hockey tournament.
“That’s a big loss for us,” said Puzzangara. "He played so well for us last year at varsity.”
Hanover has high hopes
The Hawks have been knocking on the door of a state championship in recent years.
In 2019, Hanover lost to Sandwich, 10-8, in the sectional finals.
“This is probably our deepest group,” said Tierney, who is entering year No. 4 at the helm.
Hanover’s four senior captains – Max DaSilva, Sean Coughlin, Griffin O’Brien and Dylan Rice – have been big parts of those recent tournament runs.
“Those are our four kids that we lean on heavy,” said Tierney. "Leadership is something we try to preach pretty heavy and this year we have four leaders. We hope that everyone stays healthy and they bring us on a deep run in the Division 3 playoffs this year.”
Rice scored three goals and added an assist in the loss against Scituate. Last season, he scored an overtime winner against Canton in the sectional semifinals.
The Hawks have three goaltenders they’ll lean on this season. Junior Ronan Kearney has started both games and stopped eight shots on Thursday. When he was serving a penalty, senior Tyler Chinn came on to make a save while Hanover was a man down. Nathan Curtis, a senior, will also be in the mix between the pipes.
“We have goaltender depth, to say the least,” said Tierney.
Junior Colin DiTulio has quickly emerged as a key player for the Hawks.
“He played every minute of the game today in close defense and long-stick midfield,” Tierney s. “He did it all. We have some very talented poles. We actually struggle to get playing time for everybody. We have a lot of depth. We have two lines of midfield, five and six poles that can play and six attackmen that can get after it, too. Depth is definitely a strength for us this year.”
Joe Curran, a junior, has moved to attack this season after playing defensive midfield. Tierney expects him to rapidly improve as he adjusts to his new home on the field.
“Once he does, he’ll be a frightening sight to see,” said Tierney.
On a roster filled almost entirely with seniors and juniors, sophomores Thomas Cronan and Matt DeSilva have carved out roles on the field. Cronan scored a goal in the loss.
Senior Derek Tokarz chipped in two goals in the loss, both coming when he bullied his way from behind the net to the near post for point-blank looks.
The Hawks opened the season with a 15-1 win over Dover-Sherborn on Tuesday. D-S won the Division 3 state title last season, defeating Norwell in the final.
“We played rather well,” said Tierney. “We dominated the groundball battle.
“We were just fired up and ready to play.”
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Hanover and Scituate High boys lacrosse hope to be in state-title mix