DALTON — The story of the 2021 Wahconah boys lacrosse team came to a close on Tuesday night.
Not even a nearly 90-minute rain delay could cool off visiting Norwell, which is advancing to the Massachusetts Division III state title game after knocking off the Warriors 18-9.
“We had an amazing season,” Wahconah coach Joe O’Neill said. “We’re still Western/Central champions and going into [the state tournament], we knew it was bonus lacrosse.
“Obviously you want to win and keep going, but at the end of the day we’re still champs.”
The Clippers, champions of the Southern Division, came out of the gates with the pedal to the metal. Norwell scored two goals in the first 58 seconds of the game and pushed that edge to 4-0 just minutes later.
“Early on we were losing the cutters on defense, it was something they exploited to start the game,” O’Neill said.
The game was suspended shortly before the seven-minute mark in the first quarter due to lightning in the area. Trailing 4-0, the 90-minute intermission gave the Warriors a chance to regroup.
“The break helped,” O’Neill said. “We were in the cafeteria and were receiving constant updates.
“We were able to relax a little bit and when we knew it was about time, we went and stretched out in the lobby. By the time we came out, we were loose again.”
Wahconah’s Jonah Smith put the first dent into the scoreboard with a goal after the game resumed, but Norwell absorbed the hit, taking a 6-1 lead into the second quarter.
The game’s tone took a turn early in the second quarter due to Devin Lampron scoring two goals in the first four minutes of the frame. Next it was Ernie Lampron, at the 5:46 mark, cutting the Clipper lead to just two. The Warriors, who came from down 7-0 in the sectional final to win, started seeing a path.
However, Norwell answered with two goals over the next 28 seconds and ultimately took a 10-4 lead into the half.
Caden Padelford and Rylan Padelford scored two goals each over the next 24 minutes. Billy O’Neill added one of his own as the Warriors got within five goals in the second, but couldn’t gain any more ground due to Ryan Daly in the Norwell net.
The Clipper keeper saved six shots and held Wahconah under 16 goals for the first time this postseason.
Joe Massaro, who was between the pipes for the Warriors, spent some time standing on his head early in the fourth, deflecting back-to-back shots that were destined to reach the back of the net.
The saves came shortly after Rylan Padelford and Caden Padelford scored within 32 seconds of each other. Wahconah was picking up steam, but the momentum wasn’t enough to mount a comeback.
Caden Padelford and Jonah Smith ignited goals with two assists each. Billy O’Neill, Nick Astore and Rylan Padelford each added one dime to the scorebook.
The Warriors saw their season stop short of a state championship, but the 2021 Wahconah squad, due to the MIAA reformatting postseason tournaments, will hold one title for the foreseeable future.
“We are the last Western Mass. Champs,” O’Neill said.
Before walking off the field at Wahconah High School, O’Neill gave one final nod to his seniors that were suited in Warrior blue for the final time.
“I’ve been around them since they [were little kids],” O’Neill said. “It’s going to be tough losing them — but I’m happy to see them all moving on.”
Norwell 6 4 3 5 — 18
Wahconah 1 3 2 3 — 9