Boys lacrosse: Amherst’s furious comeback falls just short in loss to West Side

Amherst’s Joshua Goodhind (29) takes a shot against Belchertown earlier this season.

Amherst’s Joshua Goodhind (29) takes a shot against Belchertown earlier this season. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE


Staff Writer

Published: 05-14-2024 8:07 PM

AMHERST — They looked like an entirely different group in the second half, but the Amherst boys lacrosse team dug themselves too deep of a hole to overcome on Tuesday afternoon.

The Hurricanes scored seven of the game’s final eight goals, including five in the fourth quarter, yet fell 11-8 to a high-powered West Springfield team.

Trailing 10-1 midway through the third quarter, Amherst slowly began to flip the momentum of the game. Elias Lundquist and Tri Nguyen each buried goals in the latter half of the frame to make it 10-3 heading into the fourth, where the ‘Canes only jumped on West Springfield even more.

Brian Cruz and Skyler Ferro netted the next two for Amherst before the Terriers stymied the rush with one of their own. But two more tallies from Ferro – which gave him four on the day – and another from Tre Bowman brought the score to 11-8 in a blink with two minutes to go.

West Springfield wasted the rest of the time after winning the ensuing faceoff and the Hurricanes didn’t get a chance to cut any more into the deficit.

With how the MIAA state tournament rankings work, it was essential for Amherst, which sits just outside the top 32 at No. 34 in Division 3, to get Tuesday’s contest within three goals as it means more for its team rating.

“Keeping this game within three goals against that team might be enough to bump us into the top 32,” Hurricanes head coach Rich Ferro said. “It’s a whole different way of coaching now with the new system. Obviously you want to win, you’re coaching for the win. But in this instance, if you lose by seven, it doesn’t do you any good. Losing by three, in some ways, is a win. We just need to get into that top 32 and then it’s a new season. We can play with just about anybody in Division 3.”

Amherst has had one of the toughest schedules in western Massachusetts this season, with the Valley League being one of the most difficult. Their record is now 4-11, but the ‘Canes are much better than their mark shows. Their growth has been evident, and turning a 14-5 loss to West Springfield back on April 26 to an 11-8 defeat on Tuesday shows that.

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And as the postseason looms large, Amherst’s confidence hasn’t taken a hit despite not having many wins to show for.

“I knew this was going to be a hard season because of our schedule,” Ferro said. “I was hoping we would be more competitive at the beginning of the season, but we’ve persevered and have had some good wins. We’re just keeping the energy up.”

Before Skyler Ferro shook free for four goals (which now puts him at 51 for the season) on Tuesday, he was being harassed by the West Springfield defense.

The Terriers sent two or even three defenders in his direction to try and neutralize the threat he poses on offense. It worked early, but a halftime adjustment got everyone else involved.

Four different Amherst players found the back of the net over the final 12 minutes.

“At halftime we talked about having Skyler and Tre not running the ball into two or three defenders rather than get it out and move it, and then the other guys had to move better and move more off the ball,” Ferro said. “A lot of times the guys off the ball are standing there watching, but in the second half, we found some things that were working with a couple different combinations, and then a whole bunch of guys scored.”

Facilitating that offensive onslaught was Silas Hazen. His five assists were both a game-high and season-high for him. Amherst struggled to control the ball early, and that led to five unanswered West Springfield goals to start the game.

Hazen helped change that in the second half. He was the main player handling the ball and did so to perfection hitting cutters in the middle for clean looks on goal.

“They scored four goals right off the bat because we just gave them the ball a bunch of times early on,” Ferro said. “I told them, ‘You have to treat the ball like it’s a golden nugget.’ We did that in the second half for sure, and Silas, I gave him a hard time in the first quarter because he turned the ball over some, and he turned around and played the best three quarters I’ve ever seen him play.”

Jason Kim was terrific once again in the cage for Amherst, stopping 15 shots – including a handful point-blank Terriers shots that allowed the ‘Canes to maintain their momentum.

The senior is as solid a goalie as the area has to offer, according to his head coach.

“He’s been awesome for us all year, and today he made some huge for us,” Ferro said. “Last time we played West Springfield, they liked to shoot low to high, so I told him to stay up and be ready for it, and he did a great job doing that.”

Amherst (4-11) heads down to East Longmeadow on Wednesday to resume a game that was postponed in the final minute of the first half due to weather. That contest will continue at 6:15 p.m.