By Michael James LeClair
The Nashoba Regional boys’ lacrosse team entered Monday’s road contest with Marlborough High School still in search of its first win of the season.
The Chieftains arrived at Vital Field having dropped their first eight games of the 2016 campaign. Nashoba knew that if it was to capture that elusive first triumph it would have its hands full against a solid Marlborough team.
When the opening whistle blew, the Nashoba squad battled, giving the Panthers all it could handle, however, in the end, the hosts proved to be too strong as Marlborough captured a rain-soaked 11-10 overtime victory on soggy Vital Field.
The Chieftains fell to 0-9 with the non league loss while Marlborough, who plays out of the Mid-Wach C’ improved to 7-1.
“This was a tough one. The key today was when we put the ball on the ground we came up with it, especially in the second half,” said Nashoba head coach Kevin McNamara, whose charges are members of Mid-Wach A. “I’m happy with the heart my guys showed today, but it’s frustrating to still be winless after they battled and worked as hard as they did today.”
The Marlborough victory completes the season sweep as the Panthers defeated Nashoba 15-7 back on April 19 at Nashoba.
Nashoba had little time to dwell on the loss as it returned to action on Tuesday, May 3 as Leominster High School came to Bolton before Groton-Dunstable made a visit on May 5.
As for Monday’s contest, the hosts jumped up early, opening a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter before Nashoba got on the board with its first goal of the contest.
Marlborough enjoyed a 5-1 lead after the first quarter. The Panthers kept the pressure on in the second quarter and never let up as it expanded its lead. The Panthers enjoyed a 7-2 halftime advantage.
Despite finding itself in a hole heading into intermission, the Chieftains’ John Czekanski and Mike Czekanski played well for the guests in the opening 24 minutes. Each found the back of the net to account for the two Nashoba goals.
Marlborough added to its lead less than two minutes into the third quarter, putting one past Nashoba goalie Robert Atwood to make it 8-2 with 8:20 showing on the clock.
Trailing by six goals early in the third quarter, the Chieftains could have packed it in and went through the motions the rest of the way, but that’s not the way the final quarter and a half went down.
The visitors clamped down defensively and showed tremendous resiliency as Nashoba began to chip away at the Marlborough lead.
“We adjusted and once we start rolling, we’re rolling. Marlborough has some great shooters and, in the second half, we went down into our zone and tightened up,” said McNamara. “We just have to keep grinding and working hard to get better.”
Four straight Nashoba goals to close out the third quarter pulled the Chieftains to within 8-6 entering the fourth quarter.
As the two teams geared up for the final 12 minutes, the Chieftains were suddenly reenergized by the team’s third quarter run. After the Panthers struck twice in the first 1:04 of the stanza to push their lead back to 10-6, Nashoba answered right back to the tune of four straight goals. The final tally of regulation came with 4:06 left when Mike Czekanski (three goals) fired a laser beam into the back of the net to knot the score at 10.
“This is the third game in a row we’ve dug ourselves a five-goal deficit in the second half and we’ve battled back to force overtime twice,” said McNamara. “These guys grind and they have a lot of heart. They know they’re a good team. We just have some trouble getting it together early on.”
Not to be overlooked was the play at Atwood during the second half. The Nashoba net minder made several key saves to keep the Chieftains within striking distance. Atwood finished the afternoon with 18 saves.
“He [Atwood] was outstanding for us, especially in the second half,” said McNamara. “He made some big saves against their strong shooters and kept us in the game.”
In the four minute sudden death overtime session Nashoba had a couple of opportunities to find the back of the net and lock up their first win, however, the Marlborough defense was up to the challenge.
Marlborough sophomore Devin Raun gave the home team the victory with 1:16 left when his blast 20 yards out tickled the twine in the back of the cage sending the Panthers bench into frenzy.
Will Chapman played well offensively for Nashoba with three goals. John Czekanski added two goals while both Robert Braceland and Owen Fay each potted a single goal for the guests.