Ian Clark's High School Lacrosse: Bedford boys remains focused on third title
WHEN A winning streak reaches a certain point, it’s kind of hard to ignore it.
Such is the case with the Bedford boys’ lacrosse team, which has won 44 consecutive games and the previous two Division II NHIAA championships (with perfect records both times). The Bulldogs have opened this season with four more wins.
Bedford head coach Matt Guerard said he doesn’t hear his players talk about the streak, but he knows it drives them.
“The only people who ask are the media guys asking what the number is at and all that stuff,” Guerard said. “These kids have worked really hard to get where they are with that streak. I think always having it in the back of their mind and the front of their brain during a game really helps with our concentration. We’re happy to be at 44.”
Senior captain Dan Colella said the players do discuss the streak and agreed that it does push them in tight games.
“We’ve definitely talked about it and it’s definitely in the back of our heads. I think it gives us a little boost of confidence since we haven’t lost in two years,” Colella said. “(We say) ’we’re not going to lose this one.’ It’s one of those things that you fire up in the huddle. ’This isn’t going to be the team that beats us. This isn’t going to be the game that loses the streak. Definitely not to these guys, not today.’ ”
Scoring threat Colella is one of three senior captains along with goalie Matt Howe and midfielder Grant Mello that Guerard says he leans on heavily.
“I rely a lot on the seniors on the field, especially,” Guerard said. “You can only do so much from the sidelines so you’ve got to rely on those guys in-game to direct traffic inside and defensively and offensively. Their as much of a coach on the field as I am off the field.”Colella said that he and his fellow seniors, a group that includes Pat Simpson, Nicholas Vailas, Todd Glynn, Justin Irvine, Michael Bureau, Aaron Palys and James Curran, are well aware that this is the final hurrah.
“There’s tons of seniors on the team and they kind of feel an obligation, the last year as seniors to finish out what we started,” Colella said. “We’ve come into our own. Once you hit that senior year it’s kind of crazy. You have the senior guys saying “this is our senior season and you’ve got to leave it all out there. No regrets.’ It’s like a chip on our shoulder and we play like it’s our last play, because it could be.”
There is no secret to Bedford’s success. It’s that combination every team dreams of. The coaching is top notch. The Bulldogs can score at will, and even on down days they manage to find the net. The defense stifles the opposition. The players put in the hard work.
And when they need it, the goaltending is superb as well.
“Matt Howe is a tremendous goalie,” Guerard said. “He sees the ball very well. If you give him 12, 13 yards to see the ball, there’s a pretty good chance he’s going to gobble it up. He’s been very good for us for three years and hasn’t lost a varsity start. He’s 44-0.”
There was talk of the Bulldogs moving up to Division I this season. It did not happen, but will next year. Bedford has already beaten one DI school this spring, notching an 8-5 win over Exeter.
Bedford and its streak will face a stiff test next over the next week. Saturday the Bulldogs play Hanover (3-1) from Division I and then next Wednesday it’s DI powerhouse Pinkerton Academy of Derry.
If the streak dies, the ultimate goal will not change.
“If it (goes on), great. If it doesn’t, too bad, so sad, move on,” Colella said. “We have a common goal: get to the championship game.”
Ian Clark covers high school lacrosse for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.