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After a slow start, Portsmouth boys lacrosse sails past Goffstown to the D-II semifinals

PORTSMOUTH − The Portsmouth High School boys lacrosse team has been plagued by a slow start this season and Saturday afternoon’s playoff game against Goffstown was another example.

After giving up the first two goals of the game, the Clippers took the lead and stayed with a four-goal flurry in just over three minutes. That play proved to be the catalyst for an eventual 15-5 quarterfinal victory over the visiting Grizzlies at sun-drenched Tom Daubney Field.

Portsmouth's Zac Amend looks for an opening despite the defense of Goffstown's Trevor Spofford during Division II play-off action Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.Portsmouth's Zac Amend looks for an opening despite the defense of Goffstown's Trevor Spofford during Division II play-off action Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth’s Zac Amend looks for an opening despite the defense of Goffstown’s Trevor Spofford during Division II play-off action Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.

“Every time we come down, I don’t think anyone thinks we’re going to lose this game,” senior co-captain Zac Amend said. “We’re just focusing on the next game. We have that goldfish mentality where you forget about that last play and focus on the future.

“Goldfish have small brains, so they forget what’s happening,” Amend added. “You just have to forget about the last play.”

However, the deeper Portsmouth goes into the Division II tournament, this trend could become more problematic. The Clippers played from behind for most of last year’s D-II final against Derryfield before losing in sudden-death overtime.

Portsmouth's Sawyer Bouvier, left, plays tough defense against Goffstown's Noah Bless during Division II playoff action Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.Portsmouth's Sawyer Bouvier, left, plays tough defense against Goffstown's Noah Bless during Division II playoff action Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth’s Sawyer Bouvier, left, plays tough defense against Goffstown’s Noah Bless during Division II playoff action Saturday afternoon in Portsmouth.

“We can’t keep doing that and it’s concerning,” Portsmouth coach Chad Vischer said of the early deficits. “Unfortunately we expect the boys not to make mistakes, they make mistakes all the time. That’s frustrating. Hopefully we’ll clear it up and it’ll get better. They are good, smart players. They work hard. I think they’re getting pretty excited to do things and maybe they’ll go beyond the boundaries of our game plan.”

With its latest victory, top seed and undefeated Portsmouth (18-0) advanced to the semifinals, where it will play No. 4 Timberlane on Wednesday (7:15) at Stellos Stadium in Nashua. The Owls knocked off No. 5 St. Thomas 11-3 in another quarterfinal match.

No. 8 Goffstown, which had won seven of its previous eight matches, finished 11-6. The Clippers defeated Timberlane early in the season on the road 15-7.

“We have to be careful,” Amend said. “I think as a player myself I can slow things down at first because I get so excited I just want to go. I think if we own we can work that out.”

Amend led the Clippers with six goals and an assist, including the go-ahead goal with 5:17 left in the first quarter. In his first playoff start, junior Reilly Collins had three goals and two assists, with all five points coming in the first half.

Portsmouth's Briggs Catino gets ready to unleash a shot during Division II playoff action Saturday afternoon against Goffstown.Portsmouth's Briggs Catino gets ready to unleash a shot during Division II playoff action Saturday afternoon against Goffstown.

Portsmouth’s Briggs Catino gets ready to unleash a shot during Division II playoff action Saturday afternoon against Goffstown.

Lucas Patten and Ben Purcell both had tricks. Purcell’s third goal off a rebound with 6:24 remaining in the third quarter was his 100th career goal. Purcell’s second goal came on a quick break midway through the second quarter and came just six seconds after the Grizzlies cut a 5-2 deficit to 5-3.

Nick Smith won the face-off and passed the ball to Collins, who quickly set up Purcell for the finish. Collins also set up Amend for a score with just one second left in the second. The goal came just seconds after Portsmouth eliminated a man-down situation for a minute.

“Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this match my whole life,” Collins said. “I grew up watching lacrosse in Portsmouth. It was a big moment for me. I’ve been preparing and preparing myself all week.

Portsmouth led 5-2 after one quarter, 9-3 at half time and 14-4 at the end of three. Collins was responsible for five of the Clippers’ nine goals in the first half.

“He knows the whole playbook,” Vischer said. “He will become a coach one day. He’s a lax rat. He’s been here since seventh grade. He is always on the field. He likes to shoot. He knows where to be.”

Smith won 17 of 19 faceoffs for the Clippers and starting goalie Kai Paterson made four saves. Sam Chapman scored two goals for Goffstown and Andrew Sealy had a goal and an assist. Eli Dillaway scored the other Grizzlies’ goal.

“We know we have an offense that can score,” Collins said. “We don’t have to force it. That was a big deal for us, and we’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now. In addition, we always fight back. We have a great goalkeeper and a great defense. We know we will stay in the game no matter what.”

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Portsmouth boys lacrosse sails past Goffstown to D-II semifinals

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