WINDHAM — Bedford High withstood a furious late rally by Windham High to emerge with a 16-14 victory on Friday in a battle of top girls’ lacrosse teams in Division II.
The Jaguars still cling to a narrow lead in the standings at 10-2. Bedford improved to 9-2. The top five teams in DIvision II, including Bishop Guertin of Nashua, Hanover and Winnacunnet of Hampton, have two losses each.
Senior captain and leading scorer Drew Shapiro scored seven goals and added an assist despite having a Windham player shadow her most of the game. Kelsay Linehan notched four goals and two assists, including the game winner.
“She had to work a little harder because of that but we expected it,” said Bedford coach Christine Hodgdon of Shapiro. “The good thing is we have balanced scoring. It’s what you need this time of year.”
For Windham, captain Courtney Sweeny registered six goals and an assist. Ali Connors had five goals and two assists. Melissa Cino had two goals and eight assists.
Control off the draw seemed to dictate momentum in this game. “That’s the only reason we wound up with the (13-4) lead we had,” said Hodgdon. “With two teams with high-caliber offenses, when you can win the draw, you’re in pretty good shape.”
Windham coach Jill Bartlett concurred. “That was key. Bedford is a fast, skilled team. Keeping the ball off their sticks is key.”
Bedford led 10-4 at the half and at one point in the second half the game appeared to be heading to run time when the Bulldogs led 13-4 with 19 minutes remaining.
But Windham managed to turn things around and outscored the Bulldogs 10-3 the rest of the way. The Jaguars did it by winning draws. Several times, Melissa Cino would be at the right spot to grab the ball in midair and break into the Bedford zone.
“Sam Chrichton does an awesome job of controlling the midfield and getting the ball where she wants,” said Bartlett The Jaguars got to within one goal at 15-14 when Cino beat Bulldog goalie Ashley Maddox with 6:23 to go.
But Bedford was able to win the next draw and Shapiro scored to make it 16-14 at the 3:03 mark. From there, the Bulldogs were able to hold onto the ball and run down the clock for the victory.
“We came up with a couple of key turnovers, made some good saves and transitioned the ball well,” said Hodgdon. “In a really close game, that’s what you need to win.”
Bartlett had high praise for her girls in defeat. “They really dug deep. We wanted them to unify and play together and that’s exactly what they did.”