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Cougars win an instant classic

  • ConVal’s Zach Obuchowski (8) and goalie Pat LaRoche defend the Cougar net against Plymouth on Friday. ConVal won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • ConVal’s Cam Tracy puts a spin move on a Plymouth defender during the Cougars’ 9-8 win in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament on Friday. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The ConVal boys' lacrosse team traveled to Plymouth on Friday and won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' lacrosse team traveled to Plymouth on Friday and won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' lacrosse team traveled to Plymouth on Friday and won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' lacrosse team traveled to Plymouth on Friday and won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' lacrosse team traveled to Plymouth on Friday and won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The ConVal boys' lacrosse team traveled to Plymouth on Friday and won 9-8 in the quarterfinals of the NHIAA DIII tournament. Staff photo by Ben Conant—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, June 05, 2017

Someone get Pat LaRoche a banana already. ConVal’s stalwart goalie was shouting to the sidelines for sustenance during the third period of Friday’s playoff game at Plymouth, calves burning after stopping a barrage of Bobcat shots. But his go-to bananas were nowhere to be found.

“They were on the bus, but I guess they didn't make it out here,” said LaRoche after the game. 

LaRoche didn’t get that sideline snack, so it must have been a Herculean effort for him in the final minutes of the game as he scrambled around behind the net, ConVal up just one and on the brink of a Plymouth comeback. LaRoche was out of position, the ball was loose, and the Bobcats were on the prowl.

“I was just thinking ‘Keep the ball away from them,’” LaRoche said. “As long as I can keep it on the ground and keep it out of their sticks, they can’t do anything with it. Once I made the decision to go for that ground ball, it was 100 percent ‘I’m winning this or nobody’s winning this.’”

He chased it down, scooped it up and with the help of his Cougar defenders, flung it out of the zone. ConVal would turn it over with just 15 seconds left, but it was deep in the Plymouth end. The Bobcats’ last-second desperation pass came up short, as two Plymouth teammates, both at full tilt in opposite directions and looking up for the lob, met in a devastating collision, leaving Bobcat senior Matt Rossner down on the sodden field.

“Unfortunate for us to have the biggest win in a couple years for ConVal probably and we get to immediately celebrate it by taking a knee and being quiet.” said head coach Jon Gullage. “But the guys were respectful and they did the right thing.”

Rossner was down for a good 15 minutes and eventually carted off with a hip injury, but he’d recover in time to attend his high school graduation the next morning.

The 9-8 ConVal victory was “absolutely a team win,” Gullage said.

“Today was all about these players,” he said. “I don’t know if you saw their huddles after every goal — total teamwork. We always get on them — ‘Don’t get on each other to bring each other down, get on each other to pick each other up,’ and they were actually doing it today.”

Plymouth focused on ConVal senior scoring star Danny Parker, and kept him relatively quiet (three goals), but Jimmy Stewart, Scott Stanley and Cam Tracy all stepped up to put it in the net for ConVal.

Dylan Rochford and Seth Richardson anchored the ConVal defense; in the waning moments with LaRoche out of the net, the senior Richardson streaked through the crease and intercepted a Plymouth pass all but certain to result in an empty-net goal.

“That was a game-changer that late in the game,” Gullage said.

After that thrilling victory, the Cougars had five more days to bask in the glory and prepare themselves for the daunting task of facing the No. 1 seed, undefeated Hopkinton, Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Bank of NH Stadium in Laconia. And LaRoche and his teammates will do whatever it takes to keep their seasons — and careers — alive.

“I was just playing for the seniors, really, it’s all about them at this point,” LaRoche said. “This is their last couple of games so I’m doing everything I can to make sure that they end on a high note.”

A win against Hopkinton would be more than just a high note — it would be bananas.