Wahconah Wins State Crown
WORCESTER, Mass. – The Wahconah boys lacrosse team ended the 2021 season feeling like it had some unfinished business.
On Wednesday at Worcester State, it took care of business.
Devin Lampron scored four goals, Joe Massaro made 20 saves, and Wahconah earned an 8-7 win over top-seeded Sandwich in the Championship Game of the Division 4 State Championship.
“It’s so surreal,” senior Caden Padelford said. “This season was our revenge tour. It’s just amazing to see we finally got it. It’s just a dream come true to win a state championship.”
Padelford, who is headed to the University of Vermont in the fall to continue his education and play lacrosse for the Division I Catamounts, scored a game-tying goal at the end of the first half as Wahconah erased an early 2-0 deficit.
Lampron had two of those goals, scoring Wahconah’s first goal of the game unassisted on a power move from the X and again 30 seconds later with an assist from Jonah Smith.
“Coach just said, you don’t come this far to roll over and die,” Lampron said of Wahconah’s turnaround after being shut out in the first quarter. “You’ve just got to keep playing no matter what the score.
“Close, blowout, doesn’t matter.”
Most of Wahconah’s season, including the Western Mass tournament and the first three rounds of the state tourney, blowouts were the order of the day.
But after winning Saturday’s semi-final in overtime and Wednesday’s title game by one goal, Wahconah (22-1) showed that it has heart to spare.
“This is the competition we’ve been waiting for the whole season,” Padelford said. “This is where we can show what we’re really made out of. And I think we did it out there today.”
Wahconah went to half-time tied despite being outshot, 10-4, in the first half.
The difference was Massaro, who came into the game with a state tournament shutout under his belt but found another level against the Blue Knights.
“He’s literally the backbone of the team,” Padelford said. “We’re not going to win without him, and we’re so proud to have him. He had an amazing game, and he’s always amazing in there.”
Massaro deflected some of the praise to his D corps.
“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” he said. “They were kind of throwing the same shots – shot after shot after shot. I was recognizing what they were doing. It made it simple: See it, stop it.
“My defense played phenomenal. They had my back out there. We ran that game defensively.”
Massaro made eight of his 20 saves in the pivotal third quarter, which ended with Wahconah up by three goals.
Billy O’Neill got the scoring started with a goal off an assist from Padelford to give Wahconah its first lead at 4-3 in the 26th minute of play.
Sandwich responded when Matthew DiGiacomo scored off a ground ball just outside the crease to tie it.
But Wahconah finished the quarter on a three-goal run.
First, Jon Howard got a ground ball about 10 yards from Sandwich’s goal and fired a low liner that found the back of the net to give Wahconah the lead for good at 5-4 with 3 minutes, 39 seconds left in the quarter.
With 1:10 on the clock, Padelford set up O’Neill again with a pass up high in front of the net that O’Neill picked out of the air and scored in the same motion to make it 6-4.
With 9.2 seconds left in the period, Lampron completed his hat trick to give Wahconah a three-goal cushion.
But Wahconah drew a penalty at the whistle, and Sandwich’s DiGiacomo scored in the first minute of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to two goals.
Two minutes later, Lampron scored an unassisted goal off a restart at the top of the box for Wahconah’s final goal of the game and an 8-7 lead.
Sandwich’s Timothy Souza scored twice in a span of two minutes to make it a one-goal game with 2:58 on the clock, and the Knights had a goal waved off on a crease violation less than a minute later.
With 56 seconds on the clock, Massaro made his final save of the afternoon, and Wahconah got possession, taking a timeout in its defensive zone with 48 seconds left.
When play resumed, the sure-handed Smith ran the gauntlet to advance the ball into Wahconah’s attacking end, and coach Joe O’Neill’s squad settled things down and ran out the clock to earn the program’s first state championship in its 10th year of existence.
What Padelford called the revenge tour applies mainly to the boys lacrosse program and the disappointment of last year’s state semifinal loss.
But for a fair number of his teammates, a more recent disappointment – in December’s football state title game – was also top of mind.
“We lost it in football,” Brad Noyes said. “It was awesome to make it up in this one. It’s nuts.
“It was definitely on our minds. We didn’t want to lose our last game in high school. We wanted to make it up here.”