Boys’ lacrosse: Bow drops intense battle with Campbell, finishes as D-II runner up

Ryan McCabe (left) comforts Nate Davis following Bow’s 6-4 loss to Campbell in the Division III lacrosse championship at Laconia High School on Saturday.

Ryan McCabe (left) comforts Nate Davis following Bow’s 6-4 loss to Campbell in the Division III lacrosse championship at Laconia High School on Saturday. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

Bow senior Gavin McCabe tries to work his way around Campbell’s Brandon Portillo during the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship game on Saturday.

Bow senior Gavin McCabe tries to work his way around Campbell’s Brandon Portillo during the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship game on Saturday. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

Bow senior Brodie O’Neil chases Campbell goalie Will O’Brien during the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship game on Saturday.

Bow senior Brodie O’Neil chases Campbell goalie Will O’Brien during the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship game on Saturday. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

Bow senior Gavin McCabe (18) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Falcons’ 6-4 loss to Campbell in the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship on Saturday.

Bow senior Gavin McCabe (18) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Falcons’ 6-4 loss to Campbell in the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship on Saturday. Chip Griffin / Photos By Chip

By SOPHIE LEVENSON

Monitor staff

Published: 06-08-2024 10:42 PM

LACONIA – Bow and Campbell were locked in a wrestling match. Aggressive defense firing on all cylinders for both teams, it wasn’t until eight minutes into the first quarter that Gavin McCabe scored. The Falcon senior took advantage of a minutes-long Bow possession, muscled his way through Campbell’s defense and bounced the ball like he was slamming a hammer. In it went: 1-0 Bow.

After a tug-of-war battle under a clear Saturday sky, the spark of a long, summer-tinted Falcon season finally gave out in a 6-4 loss to the Cougars. No. 2 Campbell (17-3) defeated No. 5 Bow (12-5) to take the Division III boys’ lacrosse championship title home from Bank of New Hampshire Stadium at Laconia High School.

“Players win games, and coaches lose them,” said Bow coach Devin Calkins afterwards. “The players deserve all the credit for the success that we had this year.”

Twelve minutes whizzed by. With four seconds left in the first quarter, Campbell’s Wyatt Tarr hurled a promising ball at Falcon goalie Brad Ekstrom, but watched it sail far over the net. Campbell faced a one-goal deficit heading into period two.

The Cougars only needed another minute, though. The second quarter had just begun when Campbell’s Zach Hannah stared Ekstrom down, two meters out from the goal; he waited a beat, then hit the shot — a bullet that was never going to be stopped. When Hunter Grant fired another one past Ekstrom just after, Bow was the team looking at climbing out of a hole.

None of that, however, says anything about Ekstrom. “We’re riding a really hot goaltender right now,” Calkins said Wednesday night. The same applied Saturday, which Ekstrom reminded the Cougars by holding them to six goals when they almost always hit double digits.

“I thought our whole defense was really awesome,” Calkins said. “To hold [the Cougars] to six, and two at halftime, is really awesome.”

Campbell struggled for the rest of the first half: Ekstrom caught a dagger from Grant, then got in the way of a shot launched less than a foot from his helmet. The Falcons had regained control, at least defensively, and finished the first half down 2-1.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Opinion: A look at the Elderly Property Tax Exemption
In Rockford Illinois – a blueprint for reducing homelessness, 1,050 miles from Concord
Concord police investigating Thursday night fight at popular swimming spot
Rockhounds rejoice: Ruggles Mine in NH to reopen
Concord Ethics Board to weigh merits of complaints against two city councilors
‘It’s kind of embarrassing’: Performing arts leaders ask district to expand CHS auditorium as part of middle school project

After Scott Hershberger got a third Campbell goal past Ekstrom, Bow finally stepped on the pedal again. Trailing 3-1, the Falcons watched their goalie fall to his knees in frustration; then they set out to avenge him. Senior Billy Smethurst sprinted all the way down the field and launched the ball out of his cradle without stopping his feet. Momentum carried him past the goal while Bow’s neon-clad student section cheered: 3-2 Campbell.

The Cougar defense, playing rough, fouled Keenan Hubbard as he geared up for a shot, earning a possession for the Falcons. Hubbard carried it down the field until he passed it off to McCabe, who swung like a batter and tied the score with 3:37 remaining in the third quarter.

The final period was when the pendulum swinging between two potential championship teams picked a side. Campbell scored in the third minute of the quarter, again about halfway through and again towards the very end. Through it all, the Falcons refused to let up — especially after Ryan McCabe circled the Campbell net, jumped, shot and scored — visibly holding onto the hope that a few quick goals could turn the tides in their favor. 

“I’m really, really proud of our guys,” Calkins said, “and what they've been able to do in-between the lines on the field.”

And when the tides didn’t change, and the Cougars finished the game 6-4, there was no slamming of lacrosse sticks on the turf, no anger from the Falcons, no broken pride. The red-clad champions rushed the field, and the blue-and-yellow runners-up did, too — maybe not jumping for joy, but holding one another as brothers all the same.

“All of our seniors have just been awesome all season,” Calkins said. “I’m gonna miss these guys.”