Ultimate state championships: Amherst wins No. 26; Northampton girls take 2nd

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-28-2023 6:59 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Amherst’s casket never closed.

Lexington celebrated like it won the boys ultimate state title Sunday at Oxbow Marina. The Fooligans ran off the sideline into the end zone to scream and hug then lined up. They thought they slayed the dragon. Destroyed the Death Star.

“I thought we lost in that moment,” Amherst’s Taylor Hanson said. “Then I realized we were still going.”

The goal came less than 30 seconds too early. The hard time cap hadn’t hit yet, so Lexington’s tally only set the target score: 12.

The Hurricanes, with 25 state championships in their history, couldn’t allow another point. They climbed out of the grave.

Amherst worked its way up the field and found Armando Feldman open in the end zone for the tying goal. That set up universe point. Whoever scored next would win, but Lexington received the pull on the change of possession.

The Hurricanes forced an incompletion to regain the disc in a dangerous position. Hanson barely saw his target but let the disc fly. It landed in Tyler Fenney’s hands on the sideline in the end zone.

He barely reacted as chaos stormed around him, teammates clamoring for a piece of him.

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“I caught it and I thought it was just another score,” Feeney said. “I was ready for the next thing.”

Amherst captured its 26th state title in program history, 12-11. The Hurricanes trailed four times but never by more than a goal.

“They’re really special. That was a level of effort and wanting to do it that we haven’t really approached yet this season. It came out (Sunday),” Amherst coach Joe Costello said. “We’ve just been getting better throughout the whole season. It was really special to see them. They wanted it, and they got it. It was really special to be a part of.”

Feeney opened the scoring as well as closed it. He toed the line in the end zone and grabbed a throw from Hanson. Feeney scored those two goals with an assist. Hanson passed five assists, and Ben Feeney contributed three.

The teams traded scores through the first six points until Tyler Feeney hit Lucius Conlin in the corner of the end zone to pull ahead 7-6. Conlin elevated between two Lexington defenders and grabbed the disc with one hand as he absorbed contact from both.

“If I can get the right angle, that’s all Lucius,” Tyler Feeney said. “He got up.”

Amherst opened the game’s first two-point lead on the next possession when James Owen slid to the ground to capture a point and trigger halftime.

Lexington chipped away and stayed tight in the second half before ripping off three of four points to take an 11-10 lead. The Hurricanes forced a turnover with their backs touching velvet to set up the heroics.

“We feel so much joy. We’re happy to be in this moment,” said Aidan Martin-Weinbaum, who scored three times. “That allows us to rise and overcome anything.”

Most Amherst seasons would end after a state title celebrating 15 seniors, but the Hurricanes have qualified for the High School National Invitational in Utah on June 16 and 17. They get to stay together and continue improving. Sunday’s victory was their first tournament title of the season.

“This means everything to us,” Tyler Feeney said. “Everything that we’ve worked on, all of our practices, grinding really hard, our parents, all of our girls team, our friends, our most important people, they all really helped us, and this is also for them.”

Northampton finished sixth in the boys bracket.

Blue Devils capture silver

Fiona Scibelli set Northampton’s tone by scoring the opening point of the girls championship game against Four Rivers.

Tatum Hathaway threw her a pass up the left sideline that Scibelli hauled in the end zone.

“The first point in my game is the most important point because it gives the momentum for the entire half. Coming off of that point, when we beat them yesterday, we came off that point. It was a D point, we got it and we scored, and it’s important for our mentality and for our mental game to get that first point and to start with that,” Scibelli said.

Northampton couldn’t keep the same note, as Four Rivers ripped off 10 points in a row and won 15-2 to win a third consecutive state championship.

“Part of the reason I love playing this team so much is because exactly like that they forced us to swing the disc. They forced us to take the passes that we don’t want to take,” Scibelli said. “It’s fun to play, although sometimes it can be frustrating. I think that it builds us up as a team, and it makes us so much better.”

The Blue Devils broke the run late in the first half when Nola Busansky found Dahlia Breslow in the right corner of the end zone to cut the deficit to 10-2. Northampton swarmed its senior unsung hero, and Busansky lifter her up in a swinging hug.

“Having that level of friendship and trust not just with Nola with our entire team makes everything fun,” Breslow said.

Northampton set a goal to finish in the top two of the state tournament before the season and achieved it. It was the program’s best ever finish at the event. The Blue Devils also played in the Amherst Invitational final earlier in the spring.

“We say we’re on a ramp because no matter our setbacks, and no matter how many games we lose, we can always come back, we can always win more. There’s always more like games to play,” Scibelli said. “We try to take these wins and not only celebrate them but also learn from them and understand how we could have done better. The same thing with the losses.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>