WATERFORD — There was no stopping Zach Hochman on Friday night in the Class M boys lacrosse quarterfinals, no denying him from the faceoff ‘X’ to the buzzer, on his feet or getting off the turf.
Hochman controlled draws and scored six goals as Notre Dame-West Haven beat Waterford 12-6 to reach the semifinals for the second year in a row.
His goal at the end of the second quarter — tripped up, tumbling, getting up and scoring — gave the Green Knights a 9-3 lead.
“He’s such a good athlete,” Notre Dame coach A.J. Alessi said. “Even when he’s in a tough spot like that, he’s come out of it.”
Hochman took the opening faceoff straight up the middle and scored. He beat the buzzer at the end of the first quarter to make it 3-1. The Green Knights scored three quick goals to start the second on the way to an 8-1 edge.
And with Connor Smith sharp in net, with Aidan Walsh locking up Lancers star Caleb Holdridge and the rest of the Notre Dame defense limiting chances (and with the Green Knights dominating possession), the 10th seed was on its way to the semifinals.
The margin was a surprise: The teams met on April 20, when Waterford, the second seed, won a back-and-forth 12-11 game.
“They just had that run (Friday) where we couldn’t get the ball,” Waterford coach Scott Hicks said. “Then we were just sitting on defense the whole time.
“We just had some better bounces (the first time), I think. I think we played better the first time, but if you look at their record after they lost to us, that’s when they really started turning it around.”
The Green Knights lost one more after that Waterford defeat, to Guilford, falling to 4-4, then won their next five. They’re 12-7 now.
“We definitely played transition better” than the first meeting, Hochman said. “Our defense played man-to-man very well. We played a little bit of zone, which we did great,” Hochman said. “Our defense stepped up, and our offense did, also.”
Notre Dame will play Wednesday in the semifinals against either third-seeded Weston, which beat the Green Knights 9-6 in Notre Dame’s second game of the season, or 11th-seeded Farmington.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Zach Hochman dominated on faceoffs and scored six goals.
“You saw right in the beginning, I told the coaches, he won that faceoff, and I told them he decided on Wednesday he was going to the goal right off that faceoff,” Alessi said.
Hicks’ first year as Lancers coach included an ECC championship, won in overtime over East Lyme on a Holdridge goal, and a 17-3 record, with regular-season losses only to East Lyme and Class S top seed Somers.
“It’s been a great time for myself. This was a great group to coach,” Hicks said. “We played hard. We won an ECC title. We can’t lose sight of that. I know we had aspirations of going farther, but, quarterfinals, every team’s good.”
SHOOT YOU FOR IT
This was hysterical.
ND’s Zach Hochman’s stalling out the clock. Waterford and senior Caleb Holdridge wanted to keep playing.
Hock wasnt selling.
“C’mon, it’s our last game!”
And so they did.
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) June 1, 2019
With Notre Dame a man up in the final minute, the Green Knights were content to have Hochman just hold the ball near the sideline. The Lancers begged them to play, to give Waterford a chance.
Then, out of nowhere, Hochman and Holdridge played rock-paper-scissors. Hochman won. Holdridge turned around in mock disgust, then asked for two out of three.
“He just asked, we’re both playing next year, it’s his last game: figured why not do it for ball possession?” Hochman said. “Just a little fun stuff going on.”
“(Defender Alexander Fayan’s) feet kind of got intertwined with mine and kind of tripped me up. I realized it was still in my stick and I had some space around me to stand up and let it fly at the top of the net. It just fell.” —Hochman, on his goal at the end of the first half.