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Proving they belong

DIVISION III PRELIMS: Hopkinton 8 ConVal 4

  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)
  • The ConVal boys lacrosse team fell to Hopkinton 8-4 in the Division III preliminary round on Tuesday, May 28, 2013.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Tim Goodwin)

There were few people expecting the ConVal boys lacrosse team to pull off an upset in Tuesday’s Division III tournament opener.

The Cougars had barely earned the 15th seed, were the second to last team to make the D-III field, and drew second-ranked Hopkinton, which entered the playoffs with a perfect 14-0 record.

But if ConVal could not hand the Hawks their first loss of the season, coach Pete Ketchum just wanted the Cougars to prove they belonged in the 16-team bracket. And while the 8-4 loss ended ConVal’s season, the players showed they were worthy of the tournament berth.

“The scoreboard showed our effort throughout the game,” said sophomore Stephen Twitchell. “They’re a great team. They’re undefeated and just to have that final score is a good feeling.”

Prior to Tuesday, Hopkinton had only been held to single digits three times and in each of those games, the Hawks had scored nine times.

So not only were the Cougars able to hold down an offense that averaged more than 12 goals per game to a season low of eight, but they actually outscored Hopkinton 3-1 over the final two quarters.

Hopkinton struck first just over a minute into the game, but sophomore Isaiah Taylor quickly tied the game at one with 8:49 to play in the first. The Hawks would score the final six goals of the first half for a 7-1 lead.

Twitchell collected ConVal’s second goal when his third quarter shot hit the post, bounced off Hopkinton goalie Matt French and in. The Hawks scored late in third to make it 8-2 going into the fourth. Twitchell scored again three-plus minutes into the fourth and junior Riordan McCole’s goal made it 8-4 with 5:06 left.

“We got off to a slow start and got behind early, but then we basically showed our teeth in the second half and I’m so proud of them,” said Ketchum. “It’s a great way to end the season and to build toward that first step of next year.”

Junior goalie Sean Stinehour, who Ketchum credits for keeping the Cougars in many games this season, did so once again with 23 saves.

“He’s just been awesome all year long and he did it again,” said Ketchum.

ConVal finishes the year 5-10 overall, but making the playoffs was just a bonus. After losing 12 players to graduation and with only two seniors on the roster, this year was looked at as the foundation that will build for future seasons.

“It’s good for the program just to get out there and make the playoffs,” said Twitchell. “Just to make it was our goal all season.”

Both seniors, Shawn Broderick and RJ Carney, played on defense and only Broderick played on Tuesday and he did so with a cast on his fractured right forearm. The entire attack and midfield line will be intact for the start of practice next spring, barring any injuries or departures, and with the way the Cougars came together during the course of this season, they should not have to sneak their way into next year’s playoffs.

“They’re a young group, but they’re hungry and they know what they have to do to take themselves to that next level,” said Ketchum.

But ConVal will be losing Ketchum, who decided this would be his last season at the helm following a five-year run. He began as the junior varsity coach in 2009 when his son Brett was in the program, but was quickly thrust into the varsity job following a midseason resignation. He even served as coach for both programs during his first year.

“It’s kind of emotional for me because I’ve played for Pete since I was a freshman,” said McCole.

Ketchum felt it was the right time to step down and is hoping his assistant, Bob Taylor, will be chosen as his replacement. Ketchum believes he is leaving the program in a good place and the players wanted to send him off in the right way.

“We’re really proud of ourselves. We pulled it together and did what we wanted to do and make playoffs,” said McCole. “Hopefully we can keep it going for next year, keep progressing and start off hot.”

Now it is up to the players to carry the momentum of this playoff appearance and prove once again that they belong, but this time among the division’s best.

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