For Algonquin boys lacrosse, OT win gives taste of playoff energy

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Photo by/Kevin Stone
Algonquin’s Tim Hostage speaks with reporters after his game-winning goals May 25.

By Kevin Stone, Contributing Writer

NORTHBOROUGH – Thursday, May 25 was a day that Algonquin’s Tim Hostage and the rest of the Tomahawks’ boys lacrosse team will never forget.

With the first big crowd of the year on hand surrounding the field behind their school, Algonquin erased a four-goal fourth-quarter deficit and stunned rival Shrewsbury in overtime for a 9-8 win. 

Hostage had the game-tying goal with just 37 seconds left and then notched the game-winner on the first possession of overtime. After he scored, Hostage wasn’t just mobbed by teammates, but a huge section of the student body that had come out to watch the game as they stormed the field. 

The win clinched the Mid-Wach A division for the team. More importantly, though, it came just as everyone in attendance was discovering how much the atmosphere and excitement of high school sports had been missed throughout the pandemic.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that I’ll remember forever,” Hostage said of his game-winning overtime goal. “I had the short stick on me, decided to take it to the crib, and having all my friends, all the fans out there was the greatest thing ever. [I] couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Photo by/Jeff Slovin
A St. John’s lacrosse player juggles a ball around the defense of an Algonquin opponent. After losing to St. John’s, Algonquin rekindled some magic on their home field against Shrewsbury on May 25.

At the time, the win moved Algonquin’s win/loss record to 7-2, with a 6-0 record in league play. Shrewsbury dropped to 5-4 overall, with a 4-2 record in league action. 

With a bit of a shortened season due to the coronavirus, the win for Algonquin was also a momentum boost heading into the rapidly approaching postseason.

“It’s huge,” said Algonquin coach Matt Nofsinger. “These guys just showed they don’t quit. That’s the type of team we have, and these guys just kept battling. What a great atmosphere this was for lacrosse, and hopefully, it’s a big spark for us with only a few games left until the playoffs.”

Shrewsbury led 6-4 at the half, and two goals from Will Ambach in the third pushed it to 8-4 heading to the fourth quarter.

AJ Guidi potted a goal with 10:33 left to cut it to 8-5 with an assist going to LSM/defender Rafael Knapp. 

Knapp proved to be huge in the final frame both physically and on ground balls, scoring a “pole goal” with 3:38 to go to keep Algonquin alive and within two at 8-6. 

A low left-handed laser from Charlie David off a feed from Chris Carreras cut the deficit to 8-7 22 seconds later.

Photo by/Jeff Slovin
An Algonquin player charges against a St. John’s opponent during a game. After losing to St. John’s, Algonquin rekindled some magic on their home field against Shrewsbury on May 25.

It appeared as if the comeback was going to fall short when Algonquin was flagged for a push with 2:05 remaining. With a man in the box for 30 seconds, all Shrewsbury had to do was work the ball around and kill the remaining time. 

But it was turned possession over, and Knapp picked up the ground ball to quickly get it upfield to Jack Battles. Battles found a streaking Hostage who buried the game-tying goal with 37 seconds left.

Throughout the day, Owen Morse was dominant at the face-off X, winning 15 of the 21 draws. Morse won the opening draw in OT, and Nofsinger called timeout. After the timeout, it didn’t take long for Hostage to beat his man up top while moving to his right. 

Hostage fired a bounce shot that beat Colonials’ goalie Matt Montoya (14 saves) and set off a wild celebration.

“We just tell everyone to keep pushing,” Hostage said when asked what the message was on the bench before the fourth quarter. “We don’t have a very big bench, so everyone has to play all the time, and we just give it our all. Every single second, every practice, every game, everyone is going out there, and I’ve got to give it to every single one of my teammates and the fans.”

Early on, it was all Shrewsbury as Ambach (2) and Cameron Jenkins both scored in the first to make it 3-1 Colonials after one, with Algonquin’s goal coming from Carreras. With Montoya and Colin Conners (8 saves) dueling throughout the afternoon, offense was hard to come by.

Algonquin got second-quarter goals from Carreras (2) and Battles, while the Colonials got tallies from Owen Keely (2) and James Millette for the 6-4 Shrewsbury lead at halftime.

Though the game took place weeks ago, it’s stuck in the minds of players and fans as pandemic restrictions have lifted. 

For Algonquin and Shrewsbury, this was, indeed, the first true playoff atmosphere either team had been part of in over a year.