Lady Dragons tie Londonderry in shootout

Written by Mike Halloran
 | Wednesday, 25 April 2012 14:00

(CRAZY EIGHTS: Junior Tina Belzotti scores one of her eight goals in Saturday’s tie with New Hampshire powerhouse, Londonderry.)

One fan was heard to ask, “Does this mean they are that good if they score 19 goals?”

For Coach Kelly Jurgens, it was a positive sign that her offense is as loaded as she expected. But letting the opposition score 19 points too didn’t exactly sit well with the second-year varsity lacrosse coach.

“We have our moments of brilliance,” “But I’m struggling as to how to get our team to give a full 50-minute effort,” said Jurgens, after watching her squad come back on numerous occasions against Londonderry, N.H. Coming into the game with a two-game losing streak, Duxbury knew it would have its hands full with the Granite State powerhouse and previous State champion.

It didn’t take long to find out just how powerful they were, as senior goaltender Sophie Fitzpatrick made a big save right away to keep the Lady Dragons from getting behind.

The teams played evenly for the first 15 minutes with Londonderry dynamo Leah Walker scoring three of her team’s first four goals, while junior Tina Balzotti was equally impressive with three goals of her own as both squads battled to a 4-4 tie with 10:14 left in the first half.

With Walker’s third goal tying the game, it also brought momentum onto Londonderry’s side, as they became very adept at crossing in front of Fitzpatrick and sending passes through the defense that made life difficult for the senior netminder.

In a five-minute span the Lancers tacked on three more goals, as the game appeared to be getting out of hand.

Senior Molly Zaverucha ended the Lancer run with a free position goal with 3:38 left in the half, only to be matched by Walker once again to make it 8-5 with 1:04 left on the clock.

At this point Jurgen’s offense displayed one of its moments of brilliance, as junior Hannah Murphy (2) and Balzotti scored to tie the game before the half ended.

The signs were all positive at this point for the Lady Dragons, who hoped to carry their momentum right into the second half. Unfortunately, after grabbing a 9-8 lead in the first 30 seconds, one of those effortless stretches Jurgens had railed about at halftime reared its ugly head, as the Lancers reeled off four straight goals to grab a 12-9 lead with 20 minutes left in the game.

Duxbury showed its offensive talents once again, as Olivia Smith and Balzotti got their team back to within one at 12-11. But the Lancers wouldn’t quit, going on a three-goal run for a 15-11 lead with 10:56 to go.

Another moment of brilliance is all Duxbury needed, and like flicking a switch it appeared with the Smith twins (Olivia and Katherine), Balzotti, and Zaverucha combining to tie the game at 15-15 with 4:44 to go.

Two more Londonderry scores had Duxbury teetering on the brink of defeat, but the Smith twins came to the rescue and tied the score at 17-17 with goals 15 seconds apart.

Face-offs and possession were now the keys, as Jurgens inserted sophomore Caroline Shaunessy for the draw controls and she won them consistently, getting Duxbury possession and leading to another Balzotti goal with 1:54 remaining.

The lead lasted 12 seconds, as Jenny Thompson raced downfield to tie the game at 18-18 with 1:42 to go.

Shaunessy did her job once again, as the Lady Dragons controlled the draw and went into a stall, taking valuable seconds off the clock while setting up for the winning goal. After killing over a minute, Balzotti got the ball to the left of the Londonderry goal and came around, cutting across the goal mouth and beating goalie Jill Spinney for the go-ahead score with 25 seconds to victory.

Walker saw to it that victory never came for either team, as she raced down the field with the ball and split the defense, getting into the slot and beating Fitzpatrick to tie the game with five seconds remaining.

While the Lady Dragons were disappointed with the tie, it came against the type of team Jurgens is putting on the schedule in hopes of making them tougher come tournament time.

Three easy wins to open the season, followed by games with an improved Notre Dame team, a loss to central Mass power Westborough, and the tie with Londonderry, leaves Duxbury at 3-2-1.

“I graduated a lot of seniors from last year’s team, so there is a big learning curve working the younger players into the system,” said Jurgens. “We are way too talented not to be a good team. I think it’s just a matter of playing together before we start to gel.”

Jurgens is excited about her offense led by tri-captains Zaverucha and Murphy.

“Hannah is the best athlete I’ve ever coached,” says Jurgens. “She is extremely coachable and a natural at lacrosse. She has all the right stuff to make her a great player, while Molly is the only midfielder I don’t have to sub for. She is a workhorse and is solid at both ends of the field.”

Presently leading the team in scoring, Balzotti has developed just as Jurgens had hoped.

“I knew she was capable of performing like this,” said Jurgens. “She led the team in assists last year and she has the best shot on the team right now, and is strong with both hands, so it is hard to defend her.”

Joining Balzotti up front are the Smith twins, whom Jurgens likes to describe as a unit.

“The two of them work well together. They are very quick and can take advantage of our fast breaks. They are hard to defend with their speed, quickness, and shot selection.”

Junior Kristen Brockwell is also an integral part of the attack foursome and has shown great off-the-ball movement, along with good field vision and game sense.

Joining Murphy and Zaverucha in the midfield is senior Emily Horton, who Jurgens says “is a solid midfielder, a team player, and a player who works well with everyone.”

Jurgens is also high on three freshmen in Isabella McCann, Riley, Buonagurio, and Jane Dudley who she thinks have star potential and will be developed this year in hopes of making a big impact in their sophomore seasons.

While the Duxbury coach is high on her offense, she knows it may take some time for the defense to gel after taking a major hit in graduation last year.

With tri-captain Fitzpatrick in net, Jurgens knows it is like having another coach on the field.

“She’s a great leader back there because she is very vocal and can direct her defense. She sees the ball well and gets in front of a lot of shots.”

Hoping to be part of the rebuilding defense are junior Lily Connolly, junior Dorothy Hellar, sophomore Hallie Walsh, senior Emily Doyle, and sophomore Shaunessy.

“Lily reads plays well and puts herself in position for a lot of interceptions. She’s a real animal on defense,” says Jurgens. “Emily is my best one-on-one defenders, and with her speed she can stay with any attack anyone can send against us. Walsh is also a good one-on-one defender, who is effective on groundballs and understands team defense and when to double, along with Hellar, who anticipates well and does a good job at helping out.”

If the girls’ game required more aggression, Shaunessy would fit the bill.  “Tenacious and aggressive, she can win games for us with her draw controls.

Also hoping to see some action this year are senior goaltender Kelton Vuilleumier, sophomore defender Rachelle Myette, senior defender Caroline Manning, sophomore midfielder Meghan Zaverucha, and junior midfielder Emily Giumetti, who injured her ankle in the first game of the season after missing the 2011-12 hockey season with knee surgery and is one of the hardest shooters on the team according to Jurgens.

“When I walked into this program the starters were already in place,” said Jurgens. “This is a much younger team with lots of potential and I’ll be holding them to higher standards. I have no doubts that this program will always be strong.”

On Friday night the girls will take on Cohasset at home in non-league action.