THE CONCLUSION of the NHIAA lacrosse season left some familiar names at the top of the heap, but the landscape for next season should be a different one.
One state champion will be moving up a division and a second is expected to. Boys' Division II champion Bedford could move up to DI and Division III girls' champion Windham will make the the jump to DII.
The move for the Bedford boys would probably be a welcome one for the rest of the DII field, which has had to endure beatings at the hands of the Bulldogs for two straight seasons.
The top-seeded Bedford squad capped its season by overwhelming sixth-seeded Goffstown 16-2 in the DII championship game last Tuesday.
Bedford, which scored the game's first seven goals, finished with a 21-0 record and extended the program's winning streak to 40 games. The Bulldogs went 19-0 last season, when they beat St. Thomas of Dover in the title game.
Bedford defeated three Division I playoff teams this season (Exeter, Hanover and Londonderry), so is it time for the Bulldogs to move up a division?
"We'd love to," Bedford coach Matt Guerard said. "We're not the ones who make that decision, but we'd love to. That's something our athletic director handles internally, so it's out of our control."
The Windham girls' move upwards should be an interesting one. The two-time champion Jaguars lost only two games in claiming the Division III title and those losses came to Division I champion Pinkerton Academy of Derry and DII champion Portsmouth.
The Jaguars should be a contender in DII next season as they will return several key players, including Melissa Cino, who will be a senior and posted four goals and seven assists for 11 points in the title game against Lebanon.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth will have to defend its DII title without four key players as seniors Devon Parker, Emily Whitney, Oliva Eaton and goalie Ashley Linane move on. They won two state titles with the Clippers.
"We've been playing together since third grade and we've all become close friends," Whitney said. "We know how each other plays. We've adapted to each other and become more team players than just individuals."
The departure of a strong Portsmouth senior class could open the door for youth-laden runner-up Hanover, the top seed that came up just shy against the Clippers.
"One thing that was encouraging, when (Portsmouth coach Mary Squire) came over an gave me a hug, she said 'it's all yours next year,'" Hanover coach Chris Seibel said. "But nothing is going to be easy next year."
Pinkerton's ride to the Division I girls' championship was a road of revenge. The Astros avenged regular-season losses to Londonderry and top-seeded Souhegan in the playoffs. "It was such a thrill to beat Londonderry because Pinkerton had not beaten Londonderry since 2008," said Pinkerton sophomore Maggie McCarthy. "It was so amazing and our coach (Rob Daziel) is from Londonderry, which is just funny. They beat us twice in the regular season so it was awesome to beat them."
It was the same old story in Division I boys' play as Bishop Guertin of Nashua won its fourth consecutive state championship by beating arch-rival Pinkerton. The top-ranked Astros had been the team to beat all season, but a 5-0 BG advantage in the third quarter of the title game showed the Cardinals' experience and paved the way to victory.
In the Division III boys' ranks, Derryfield School of Manchester claimed its second state crown in four years. The No. 1 seed, Derryfield had a test in the semifinals against No. 4 Plymouth, escaping with a 12-11 win. It was the only time the 19-0 Cougars let a team within fewer than five goals all season.
Email reporter Ian Clark at email@example.com. Reporter Roger Brown contributed information to this column.