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Boys lacrosse: Northampton downs Amherst Regional heading into showdowns with Longmeadow, Minnechaug

  • Willy Wright, left, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Sam Ohotnicky, of Northampton, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tyler Allcroft, left, of Northampton, checks Amherst’s Daniel Lyra, Monday. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton players Jameson Miller, from left, Tyler Allcroft and Henry Attias celebrate Allcroft's goal against Amherst Regional, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Henry Attias, right, of Northampton, celebrates his goal against Amherst Regional with Jared Fowler, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tyler Allcroft, center, of Northampton, moves the ball against Amherst Regional defenders Brock King, left, and Lee Borrell, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marco Giavalisco, right, of Amherst Regional, wins a faceoff against Alex Sylvester, of Northampton, Monday in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tyler Allcroft, right, of Northampton, moves the ball against Brock King, of Amherst Regional, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton players Henry Higgins, from left, Evan Moulton, Jared Fowler and Henry Attias celebrate Moulton's goal against Amherst Regional, Monday in Northampton. Hamp won 15-6. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Henry Attias, right, of Northampton, scores between Vance Cannella, left, of Amherst Regional, and another defender, Monday in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Henry Attias, right, of Northampton, scores between Vance Cannella, left, of Amherst Regional, and another defender, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Willy Wright, left, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Sam Ohotnicky, of Northampton, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Aidan Bass, front, of Amherst Regional, passes while defended by Mike McCarthy, of Northampton, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Kelly, right, of Amherst Regional, moves the ball against Henry Higgins, of Northampton, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jameson Miller, center, of Northampton, looks for a shot between a pair of Amherst Regional defenders Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton goalie Ryan Heng passes the ball during the Blue Devils win against Amherst Regional, Monday in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS



For the Gazette
Monday, May 01, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — the Northampton boys lacrosse team is rolling.

After losing the season opener to Tantasqua, the Blue Devils have won nine in a row, most recently overcoming a slow start Monday night to beat visiting Amherst Regional, 15-6.

Now, with two of the top teams in western Massachusetts next on the schedule, Northampton needs the momentum more than ever.

The Blue Devils will travel to play Longmeadow (7-2) Thursday night, before hosting Minnechaug (10-1) Saturday afternoon.

Longmeadow is consistently one of the area’s best teams, and the 2017 team features plenty of juniors and seniors to lead the way. Notable victories for the two-time defending Central-West Division 2 champions include an 8-7 win over Minnechaug, a 19-7 defeat of Pope Francis and a 14-10 victory against Amherst.

“I mean, Longmeadow is the best in the business. Everybody knows that,” Northampton coach Matt Striebel said. “I think we’re just going to concentrate the next two days on what we do best. We’re going to get to practice, we’re going just review the things that have gotten us to where we (are), and we recognize that this is a long season. It’s a great opportunity for us to go in and see how we stand up against the top team in the region.”

Less than 48 hours after the game in Longmeadow, the Blue Devils will return home to play Minnechaug, whose only loss was by one goal to the Lancers. Notable wins for the Falcons have come in a 15-6 win over Amherst and a 12-11 double-overtime win against Tantasqua.

“We’re obviously looking up at these teams right now,” Striebel said. “We have a terrific schedule over these next four days, and we knew this stretch in our season was coming. I think the thing that’s good is that we’ve put ourselves in a position where we can go into this with a little bit of confidence. ... No matter what happens, it’s always a question of getting better. We’ll focus on how we’re dealing with adversity, how we’re learning from mistakes, and that’s something we’ve done really well for a long, long time.”

Northampton’s offense has keyed the team’s success, and must keep up the pace to navigate the tough stretch of schedule. Attacker Tyler Allcroft leads the team with 29 goals, while midfielders Henry Attias and Henry Higgins have combined for 33 goals and 26 assists.

Minnechaug and Longmeadow pride themselves on defense. Minnechaug has allowed double-digit goals just once this season, while Longmeadow has shut out two teams, and held two more to 10 goals or less.

“We’re going to have to watch a lot of film,” Attias said. “Both teams do a lot of different things on defense, and we have to be ready for it. We have to be prepared to do the best we can, because Longmeadow is a very hard team and we know Minnechaug will come to play also.”

Throughout the season, the Blue Devils have emphasized mental toughness. Come-from-behind wins against Westfield and Pope Francis early in the year have given the team confidence during its win streak. With the biggest tests of the season days away, Northampton will need to stick to the tendencies that have sparked its early season success.

“Mental toughness is always key for us,” Attias said. “No matter what the score is, we always have our heads in the game. We’re going to keep practicing hard, so that we can keep playing hard.”

Added Striebel; “I think we have to keep in mind that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We’ll stay focused, and whatever happens, we will go back and look at it, and eventually build on it.”

Against Amherst, Allcroft had seven goals and three assists, while Attias had four of each. Higgins had one tally and two assists.

Ryan Heng made 14 saves in goal.

For Amherst, Willy Wright and Aiden Bass each had two goals. Vance Cannella and Liam Kelly each had one goal. Connor Bowen made four saves in defeat.