By ROGER AMSDEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Laconia High School boys lacrosse team defeated Hopkinton 11-8 Wednesday evening and advances to the state Division III championship game Saturday when it plays Pelham in a 2:30 p.m. game in Exeter.
The Sachems remained undefeated with the hard-fought victory over a scrappy Hopkinton team which took an early 2-1 lead and then battled back from a four-goal deficit early in the third quarter to keep the outcome in doubt until the final minutes of the game.
Tyler Roy, Jordan Audet and Jake Ellis scored three goals apiece to pace the Laconia offense, which came to life early in the third quarter to extend the Sachems 4-3 halftime lead to 7-3 and then 8-4 before Hopkinton scored two straight goals while Laconia was short-handed due to penalties.
Brenden Mooney for the Laconia offense moving with a goal just 51 seconds into the game but Hopkinton's Sam Schuster scored two of his game high four goals in a span of a little over two minutes to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead at the 7:34 mark of the first period.
The Sachems replied with two goals of their own from Roy and Audet, both on passes from Mooney, to take a 3-2 lead going into the second period.
Schuster scored at the 8:59 mark of the second period to knot the score at 3-3, Laconia retook the lead at the 4:28 mark when Ellis connected after taking a pass from Trevor Weeks.
Laconia's offense came on strong early in the third period, when, thanks in large part to the face off skills of Tyler Mitza, they were able to get and maintain control of the ball for long periods of time.
Audet scored at the 10:47 mark on a pass from Mooney and against the 9:45 mark on a pass from Weeks and Ellis scored just 32 seconds later to push the lead to 7-3.
During that offensive surge the Sachems played an aggressive defense and were knocking Hopkinton players off the ball to keep momentum on their side.
Joe Cullinan scored for Hopkinton to cut the lead to 7-4 at the 5:21 mark but Ellis made it 8-4 a little over a minute later.
Hopkinton was able to take advantage of two penalties later in the third period, getting goals from Liam Flanagan and Prince Mansah to make it 8-6 as the third period ended.
Laconia struck early in the fourth quarter with Roy taking a pass from Ellis and putting it home just 34 seconds into the frame making it 9-6 and the score stayed that way for the next five minutes until Schuster scored his fourth goal of the game, making it 9-7 at the 6:17 mark.
Laconia responded with a goal by Roy on a pass from Weeks less than a minute later but Cullinan punched home his second goal to bring the Hawks within two goals at the 3:52 mark.
Hopkinton pressed their attack for the next two minutes but Stephen Towers came up with a couple of key stops in goal and Laconia got possession of the ball with 1:24 left. The Sachems moved it quickly around their offensive perimeter with some quick passing and put the game out of reach with a goal from Parker Minor on a Weeks pass with 58.3 seconds left.
The Sachems face seventh-ranked Pelham at 2:30 Saturday afternoon at Billy Ball Field in Exeter.
Laconia’s Jakob Steele gets around Hopkinton’s defender Prince Mansah during NHIAA Division III Semi Final round action on Wednesday evening. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Laconia’s Parker Minor and Hopkinton’s Jacob Ashcraft go for a ground ball during Division III semi final action on Wednesday evening. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
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