Westwood survives Franklin rally in state final rematch

WESTWOOD — Whenever two reigning state finalists come together for a rematch, chances are that you are going to witness some fireworks.

The reenactment of last year’s Div. 1 girls lacrosse championship game between Franklin and Westwood certainly lived up to its billing Tuesday. The game itself simply followed a unique script with Ava Connaughton netting a hat trick and five of her teammates adding two goals apiece as the Wolverines survived a ferocious second-half rally en route to a 14-11 victory.

“The competition is clearly incredible between these two teams,” said Westwood coach Margot Spatola. “It really could have gone either way at some points. We could’ve possibly given the game away, but I thought we did a really good job of digging in and finishing.”

Westwood (12-0) got off to a roaring start behind senior midfielder Kate Deehan, who registered a pair of goals in the first few minutes of play to help the Wolverines seize a 5-1 edge with 17:49 left in the first half.

The two squads proceeded to exchange blows until intermission as Lindsey Diomede scored to provide Westwood an 8-4 advantage at intermission.

Westwood’s lead ballooned to 10-4 at one point early on in the second half. However, that’s when the Panthers staged their pursuit.

Midway through the frame, Kaitlyn Carney and Kate O’Rourke buried back-to-back goals off consecutive free position shots, helping the Panthers claw as close as 11-10 with 13:53 left in regulation.

Moments later, junior midfielder Lil Hancock stopped the bleeding for Westwood, tallying a critical goal to make it a 12-10 game with 11:50 to go.

“We each have trust in each other,” Hancock said. “So we didn’t get too worried. We knew that we’d come back with just as much fight we’ve had the whole season.”

Then, Westwood decided to drain some clock, and did so successfully as the Wolverines held the ball in the Panthers’ zone for nearly 10 full minutes of play.

Caroline Nozzolillo and Maddie Lyons clinched the game for Westwood with a pair of goals in the final minutes of action.

In addition to the heroics of Deehan and Hancock, Nozzolillo (two goals, three assists) had a five-point day for Westwood. Diomede and Kella McGrail each finished with two goals

WESTWOOD, MA – MAY 10: Franklin’s Stella Regan gets horizontal as she puts a shot on Westwood’s goalie Riley Harrington May 10, 2022 in WESTWOOD, Massachusetts. (Staff Photo By Chris Christo/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

as well.

Carney concluded her outing with a game-high four goals for Franklin.

“We’re really focused on today, on this year’s team,” said Spatola. “We’re a very different team. Yeah, we have tons of returners, but different people are finding their spot, and what works for them…it’s fun to remember July 1 of last year, but I think they good a good job of focusing on today, and who they are today, because Franklin is a different team too from that game as well.”