LAFAYETTE — The Dawson School boys lacrosse team understood not only the game was starting to slip away. So, too, was a lofty playoff seed.
So with visiting Thompson Valley coaches loudly chirping their approval entering the final quarter Friday, the Mustangs decided to fight back. They did vehemently so, but ultimately fell in a 9-8 nail-biter with second place in the Class 4A Foothills League in the balance.
The teams entered the final league game of the season in a second-place tie. Remarkably, it marked the fourth consecutive season Thompson Valley, ranked fifth in the CHSAANow.com poll, has edged the No. 7 Mustangs by a single goal.
“I think we’ll still make the playoffs, but now it will be up to the seeding committee where we’ll land,” Dawson coach Peter Devlin said. “This game definitely had a lot of playoff implications, but we’re just going to continue to work hard. If the road got a little bit tougher, so be it.”
Intense and evenly-matched throughout, Thompson Valley (10-4, 6-1) exploded at the end of the third quarter. Leading scorer Brian McGhie got hot, and the Eagles blitzed Dawson 6-1 in the quarter.
That saddled the Mustangs (10-4, 5-2) with a 9-5 deficit entering the fourth, but Michael Paquette notched two quick goals and Chase Brown scored midway through the quarter to trim the deficit to one.
But Thompson Valley goalkeeper Tim Zimmerman didn’t budge from there, and Dawson never got the equalizer.
“We squandered a few offensive possessions at the end of the game where we forced it,” Devlin said. “We weren’t as structured as we typically are. But I’m so proud of the way our kids fought back.”
Paquette led the Mustangs with three goals and Brown added two. Eli Negrelli, Jesse Rosenblatt and William Krebs added tallies for Dawson. Ultimately, the Mustangs were undone by Thompson Valley’s third-quarter burst.
“There are momentum swings in every game and we really put an effort in during that fourth quarter to bring it back,” Paquette said. “Huge effort from both teams. Their defense played really well and was composed and their goalie had a hell of a game.”
McGhie finished with four goals and two assists for Thompson Valley, elevating his season totals to 37 and 18. He has been to the Eagles what Brown (33 goals, 26 assists) has been to Dawson.
Ryan Spitz added three goals for Thompson Valley.
“We had a few defensive lapses, a few offensive lapses, but it happens,” Paquette said. “We still fought hard. We are not done.”
The Mustangs close with a non-league home game against St. Mary’s (5-5) next Thursday, which presents an opportunity to get some swagger back before playoffs begin the following week.
Dawson had won six of seven entering Friday, so it’s not as if the loss will put the Mustangs in some sort of rut. Rather, the final moments served as valuable experience in a tight game against a quality defense.
“They put a lot of pressure on our guys, but I don’t think that was the problem,” Devlin said. “We were just forcing it. I tell my guys every pass is not an assist. Sometimes we’d try to squeeze that pass into the crease and it wasn’t there. We weren’t as patient as we needed to be.”
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Thompson Valley 9, Dawson School 8
At Dawson HS
Thompson Valley (10-4, 6-1) 3 0 6 0 — 9
Dawson School (10-4, 5-2) 2 2 1 3 — 8
Goals — Thompson Valley: McGhie 4, Spitz 3, Parsons, Wilson; Dawson School: Paquette 3, Brown 2, Negrelli, Rosenblatt, Krebs.
Assists — Thompson Valley: McGhie 2, Wilson 2; Dawson School: Brown, Rosenblatt, Aleu.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Thompson Valley: Zimmerman (48-8-8); Dawson School: Martin (48-9-9).