Rangers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss on Senior Night

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Rangers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss on Senior Night
Westborough senior Decker Hardin (right) fights for a loose ball in the second half of the Rangers’ 16-15 loss to North Middlesex on May 18. (Photo/Bill Gilman)

WESTBOROUGH – Shaun Highley scored 2:22 into overtime to lift North Middlesex Regional past Westborough High, 16-15, spoiling Senior Night for the boys’ lacrosse team, Thursday, at Mewhiney Field.

Westborough was poised to pull off a much-needed upset victory, taking a 15-13 lead in the fourth quarter on a man-up goal by Colton McNamara (4 goals, 3 assists). North Middlesex (10-5) answered less than a minute later on a goal by Joe Williams.

Then, in the final minute of regulation, Westborough (5-9) struggled to get control of the ball in their own end to clear the zone. After a wild scramble 15 yards out from the net, Highley came away with the ball and ripped a shot past the Rangers’ goalie Sam Wickline to tie the score and send the game to overtime.

In the four-minute extra session, Westborough got the first possession thanks to the work of faceoff specialist Chase Loban, who won 20 of 32 faceoffs. Rangers’ senior sniper Decker Hardin got a clean look, only to be robbed by North Middlesex junior goalie Ryan Ahern. 

The Patriots made the most of their first chance in the OT. Highley took a pass, slashed through the attack zone and shot across his body, finding the back of the net with his sixth goal of the game with 1:38 remaining.

“Our guys have been in a lot of games like this this season. They know what it’s like to play under that type of pressure,” said Westborough Head Coach Scott Dube. “They played well, just came up a little short.”

The game was a wild, wide-open affair from start to finish. The second half and overtime featured six ties and four lead changes.

Hardin (4 goals, 2 assists) opened the scoring for Westborough, just 60 seconds into the game. The Rangers dominated much of the first quarter but couldn’t build on the lead. Much of their failure was due to Ahern, who had four saves in the first quarter and a whopping 15 for the game.

“[Ahern] played a heckuva game, he made some big saves,” said Dube. “I think some of our shot selections, we’d like to get back. But on top of that, he just made some incredible saves. He was all over the place.”

North Middlesex seized momentum in the final minute of the first quarter, taking the lead on goals by Highley and Tyler Babin.

The Patriots used their speed advantage to seize control in the second quarter, building their lead to 6-1, as Westborough struggled on the defensive end. The Rangers were able to stop the bleeding, cutting the lead to 6-4, late in the half, on goals by Liam O’Dowd, McNamara and Hardin.

The Rangers pulled even, 7-7, early in the third quarter, when Thomas Cashman intercepted a pass deep in the North Middlesex side of the field, walked in alone and beat Ahern.

Rangers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss on Senior Night
Westborough goalie Sam Wickline makes a save in the first half of the Rangers’ 16-15 loss to North Middlesex on May 18. (Photo/Bill Gilman)

That goal triggered a flurry of offensive activity from both squads, with neither able to gain any separation.

North Middlesex looked to take a lead into the final quarter, going up 12-11 with 40 seconds remaining in the third on a goal by Finn McNabb. But just 22 seconds later, Westborough’s Jon Lahue made a pretty spin move and scored to tie the game, 12-all.

The first half of the fourth quarter belonged to McNamara, who scored three times to give Westborough a 15-13 lead before North Middlesex rallied late.

Prior to the game, Westborough honored the five senior members of the lacrosse team, four of whom were in attendance. Dube said the quintet – Jason Alexander, Jon Lahue, Charan Boppe, Captain Brady Higgins and Decker Hardin – have been very important to the growth of the program in his two years as head coach.

“They’ve been awesome. They are definitely the guys that bought in [to the program],” said Dube. “Those are the guys that were really invested and wanted to win and changed the culture here.”

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