NASHUA – Before the start of the fourth quarter Monday, Keith Bertrand told his Nashua High School North boys lacrosse team to win the final 12 minutes.
The Titans did, outscoring Bishop Guertin 5-1, but by then, the goals just made a loss to the Cardinals a little less lopsided.
Bishop Guertin scored four times over a three-minute stretch in the first half to take a 6-0 lead and the Cardinals held off North to win 13-8 in a Division I game at Stellos Stadium.
Ten different players scored for the Cardinals (4-1 in division), who bounced back from an upset loss to Hanover last Friday, led by two goals each from Casey Burnett (one assist), Tom Vailas and Dom St. Laurent. Also scoring goals for Bishop Guertin were Hunter Allen, Mike Astarita, Paul Spinney (two assists), John Karanasios, Connor Donahue (two assists), John Miller and Mike Carluccio. Luke Roever had two assists and Andrew Casey added a helper while Paul Callahan made five saves and Ben Hadley had three.
North (2-2) got three goals and an assist from Marc LaVine while Alex Flynn and Austin Bauer (three assists) each had two goals. Jake Genest added a score and Steve Crocker had two assists while Spencer Rancourt made 11 saves.
While North’s senior goalie stepped up to make some big stops, Bertrand felt it was the Titans’ defense that let them down in the first half.
“I thought we really lacked a lot of emotion coming out of the gate,” the coach said. “This is the first game that we’ve let up more than 10 goals. Our defense didn’t hold up and we left our goalie out on the line. The way he played, he kept us in the game. It could have been worse.”
Bishop Guertin coach Chris Cameron agreed that his team missed some great opportunities and struggled when it was forced to run a long offensive set.
“Defensively, we were great only giving up the one goal (in the first half),” Cameron said. “Offensively, we left a lot of goals on the table. We looked good early and our transition game looked good. Our six-on-six offense didn’t look as good. To North’s credit, they played hard until the end.”
The Cardinals got two early goals just 26 seconds apart to take a 2-0 lead with 9:12 left in the first quarter, but after that, Rancourt shut the door. The only problem was, the Titans couldn’t do anything at the other end, struggling at times just to get a shot off.
North looked like it might escape the first down just two, but Vailas scored with 40 seconds left in the quarter to put the Cardinals up 3-0. Spinney made it 4-0 just 42 seconds into the second quarter, and St. Laurent added another goal less than a minute later to put the Cardinals up 5-0.
Karanasios added another goal just 31 seconds later to make it 6-0 Bishop Guertin with 9:58 left in the half.
“We felt good in the first quarter, but then we started ball watching,” Bertrand said. “They never really had any goals that they had to work for.”
Bauer got North on the board with 4:35 left in the half, but Burnett answered with his first goal a minute later, and then added his second with four-tenths of a second left in the half to make it 8-1.
The Titans cut the lead to six to open the second half, but the Cardinals rattled of three goals in a row to make it an 11-2 game with 6:19 left in the third quarter.
With three minutes to go in the third, Flynn netted a highlight goal for the Titans. As he and goalie Callahan went after a loose ball, Flynn dove and swatted at it with his stick, getting just enough of it to scoop it past Callahan and into the net.
Flynn’s goal made it 11-3, but Bishop Guertin again scored in the final minute of the quarter to go back up by nine after three.
“We weren’t playing as well as we have in the past,” Bertrand said. “When we came into the fourth quarter, I told them to just win the quarter.”
North pulled within seven on a goal by LaVine with 10 minutes to play, but Carluccio answered right back less than minute later.
The Titans made the final minutes interesting, cutting the lead to 13-7 with 4:31 to play, but the Cardinals were able to run off some of the clock. With about three minutes left, Hadley made a big save on a shot Steve Crocker, who was one-on-one on the Bishop Guertin goalie, to keep the lead at six. LaVine tacked on another goal with 1:45 to play to make it a five-goal game.
“We knew that North is a much, much improved program,” Cameron said. “Our guys kind of knew that because they saw them play real well during the winter. We came out with good focus.”