Boys lacrosse: Defending champs advance to semis

Stacy Harrison photo

MANCHESTER, NH – Having earned a first-round bye on the heals of a 15-2 regular season, the Derryfield School boys lacrosse team took a step closer to defending its 2023 state championship.

Saturday night, the second-ranked Cougars (16-2) welcomed No. 7 Oyster River-Newmarket (11-6) to town and, despite a couple surprises from the challengers, the home team managed a convincing 15-2 victory to advance back to the Division-II semifinals.

“Oyster River came into the game really prepared with a defense we weren’t expecting, playing zone, and the kids did an excellent job of quickly pivoting the offensive game plan and executed our zone offense really well,” said longtime Derryfield head coach Chris Hettler.

Seven different players scored at least one point in the win with RJ Proulx sparking the attack with five of the team’s first six goals, and Chili Cabot relentlessly spearheading the effort, finishing the contest with 11 points, including four goals to compliment his seven assists.

In addition, Ryan Maxwell scored thrice, John Kramer added a goal and two assists; Dom Cercone found the back of the net once while offering the helper on another goal; Cooper Ketcham also contributed a goal while Brady Doldo provided an assist.

Standout netminder Parker Lebiedz stopped 12 shots, while Logan Purvis won 14 of 17 faceoffs and Jackson Hatfield won three of his four attempts.

Next up for the Cougars, a semifinal date with this year’s D-II Cinderella, No. 6 seed Winnacunnet, which upset third-ranked Windham, 5-3, Saturday.

But Hettler and company hope to turn the Warriors back into pumpkins before they get to the ball.

“Winnacunnet is a team that believes right now,” said Hettler. “They play tough and physical on the defensive end with an excellent goalie. They will also play zone against us and really test our skill and patience.”

Offensively, he added, the Warriors have improved over the course of the season.

“(They) are playing excellent team ball getting contributions from multiple players,” he said. “We will have to play some of our best defense of the year and clear well when we do get stops.”

The semifinal contest is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. The victor advances to the state championship game at the same location Saturday at 5 p.m. to face the winner of top-ranked and undefeated Portsmouth, last year’s runner-up, and fourth-ranked Timberlane (15-3).

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