Hovering just outside the crease, Tim Bulens ’15 searched for an opening in the formidable Choate defense, which averaged less than six goals allowed per game. He received a pass and immediately ripped a step-down shot to the top right corner.
Andover Boys Lacrosse went into its second-to-last game of the season with momentum, having won its previous two games, but could not pull out the win against a resilient Choate squad, as it lost 4-6.
The team was not at full strength against Choate. It was missing key parts of the defense in both Taylor Chin ’14 and Jack MacWilliams ’15.
Although Andover boasted a better record going into the game, 8-6 compared to Choate’s 6-6, Choate proved to be the better team in this matchup. The game was defined by huge momentum swings. After the first period, Andover had struggled to find any rhythm offensively and found itself in a 0-3 hole, but the inexperienced defense adjusted quickly to hold Choate scoreless from then until the fourth quarter.
“It was a battle and our defensive play was fantastic all game. A lot of players really stepped up, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” said goalie Clark Perkins ’14.
To complement the defensive dominance during those quarters, Andover’s offense came to life. With goals from Captain Austin Gaiss ’14, David Belluche ’14, Will Young ’14 and Bulens, the team captured a 4-3 lead with just under seven minutes left in the game.
“We spun the ball pretty well and got everyone involved,” said Gaiss.
For the last seven minutes, however, Choate took control of both ends of the field. Choate pulled away with three unanswered goals in the fourth quarter.
The season finale against Phillips Exeter Academy looms over Andover, as the team will try to snap a three-year losing streak against its archrival.
“We’re really starting to play like a team, and that’s going to help up get the win on Saturday,” said Young.
Exeter has played to a 13-5 record this season and is ranked 46 spots ahead of Andover in the regional standings, according to laxpower.com.
Despite the loss, Andover can take some positive notes from the game. Balanced offensive production and lock-down defense will be necessary to prevail against Exeter on Saturday.
“We actually played a very good game against Choate. I think that’s very important for us going into Exeter. We were happy with the effort that we produced, and that’s something we’ll try to keep up,” Perkins added.