Boys lacrosse: Jack Carpenter, Northampton hold off Belchertown for 7-6 win

Northampton’s Jack Carpenter (10) fires a shot for a goal against Chicopee Comp in the third quarter earlier this season in Northampton.

Northampton’s Jack Carpenter (10) fires a shot for a goal against Chicopee Comp in the third quarter earlier this season in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-23-2024 7:49 PM

Modified: 04-23-2024 8:29 PM


BELCHERTOWN — With the clock ticking under a minute left and the Northampton boys lacrosse team clinging to a one-goal lead over Belchertown, the Blue Devils were doing their best to play keep away from the Orioles and run the time out in regulation.

Belchertown knocked it loose a few times, but could never fully possess the ball as Northampton hung on and celebrated to the sound of the air horn – earning a hard-fought, low-scoring 7-6 win over its Pioneer League and Hampshire County foe on Tuesday afternoon.

“We started a little slow, but [Belchertown] is one of the best teams in our league so we knew they’d be ready to play,” Blue Devils head coach Charlie Edwards said. “For us to see a team like this and fight it out the way we did, I’m real happy.”

The aggressor throughout the majority of the second half – especially in the fourth quarter – was Northampton, as it consistently made the Orioles uncomfortable when handling the ball in both the attacking and defensive zones.

When it was time for Belchertown to be the aggressor late in the game to try and tie it up, it was a tad too late, according to head coach Nick St. George.

“[Northampton] was pressuring us all game – they were pushing the ball and forcing us to make plays under pressure,” St. George said. “We really hesitated to go out and pressure them. So when we got into the end of the game and we had to go out and pressure them, we just really weren’t ready to do it.”

Jack Carpenter netted the game-winning goal just over the midway point in the fourth quarter for Northampton. It was his fourth goal of the contest, which marked the third straight game he’s scored four times – and fifth consecutive recording at least three.

Carpenter and the rest of the prolific Blue Devils offense were frustrated in the first half, as they scored just two as a team and trailed 3-2 going into the break. For a team that has scored 13 or more goals in every single bout prior, Tuesday was a change of pace.

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And considering the last one-goal game Northampton played in it lost 13-12 to Lenox in two overtimes, it felt especially good to be on the winning side.

“I’m hoping this gives us confidence that we can play this kind of game, that we can win a tight game,” Edwards said. “Our last close game was a double overtime game and we didn’t come out on top, so to know that we can do this, I’m hoping it’s a building block moving forward.”

After Carpenter netted two goals to give the Blue Devils a 4-3 lead – their first of the afternoon – out of halftime, Belchertown responded with a pair of tallies of its own.

Nico St. George knotted things up at four, then Charlie Fijal ripped a shot into the back of the cage on a nice dish from St. George, making it 5-4 in favor of the Orioles. Northampton’s Jackson Oravec tied it once again with a goal at the end of the third as the score read 5-5 heading into the final 12 minutes.

The two Valley League juggernauts traded haymakers in the third, combining for the same amount of goals in the frame (five) as the entire first half.

“I think the teams were pretty evenly matched,” St. George said. “They made mistakes, we made mistakes, but down the stretch they just made those big plays and took better care of the ball than we did. That’s it.”

Oravec buried his second goal to start the fourth, followed by a sweet pass from Belchertown’s Vincent Ting that found Caleb Reardon, who brought the contest back to a deadlocked at six apiece.

From there, Carpenter notched the winner, and Northampton began to drain the clock and hold possession – rarely turning it over without at least getting a quality shot opportunity.

When the Orioles did maneuver free for clean looks, Blue Devils goalie Henry Fallon denied several of them with terrific saves. He made five critical stops in the second half to keep Northampton in the driver’s seat.

“Henry stood up for us and had a huge second half,” Edwards said. “He made four or five really key saves and possessed the ball really well. He’s the king of our chess board back there, and he keeps it all going in the right direction.”

Belchertown keeper Dax Morin was just as impressive, tallying 11 saves – nearly half coming in the final frame. On a handful of Northampton’s goals, however, Morin had little to no chance of stopping due to miscommunications within the O’s defense.

“He had some great saves, but unfortunately on three or four of those goals we gave him no support,” St. George said of Morin. “We let them run right down the mouth of the goal and shoot it in. You can’t beat a team when you’re letting them shoot from eight yards uncontested.”

St. George finished with four points (two goals, two assists) and Landon Andre added two goals to go along with Fijal and Reardon’s goals to round out the Belchertown scoring.

Up next for the Orioles (4-3) is a matchup next Monday with Chicopee Comp at 4 p.m.

Aside from Carpenter’s big four-goal day, Oravec netted two and tallied an assist while Teddy Galvin chipped in a first-quarter goal.

Northampton (5-1) hosts Hoosac Valley on Thursday under the lights at 7 p.m.