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High School Boys Lacrosse: Maxwell back for Hamburg’s defense of sectional title

Ben Ott and Hamburg ran by Brendon Forant and Frontier, 13-3, when the rivals met May 15 to close the regular season. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Max Maxwell returned from an ankle injury last week in a win over Frontier. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Max Maxwell stood on the sideline watching most of the second half of the Class B quarterfinal Tuesday (May 21) night at Howe Field.

But it wasn’t because Hamburg’s four-year senior middie was still injured. Actually, Maxwell returned last week during a Senior Night 13-4 win over Frontier after missing four weeks with an ankle sprain.

He and most of the starters were getting a view from the sideline because the Bulldogs were so dominant from start to finish in their 13-1 win over West Seneca West in a game that started 45 minutes late due to lightning.

In fact, the impact of the UMBC-bound Maxwell has already been felt. Against West, Maxwell finished with six points, including three goals, in just one half of play Tuesday.

“It means everything to have our leader back,” Hamburg head coach Jerry Severino said. “But when he wasn’t playing, he was coaching and mentoring. He didn’t feel sorry for himself. He was with us every step of the way. He worked hard to keep himself in on our plan.”

In all likelihood, Hamburg could have handled its business In Section VI Class B even without its top scorer. The Bulldogs still finished 9-0 in Class B and again are the top seed in sectional play, but with Maxwell, they’re a much more comfortable team.

Maxwell was expected to be out for up to six weeks, but was sidelined only four with his ankle healing quickly. Hamburg has had a few close calls in the past few weeks, including a tight 10-8 win over Iroquois, which Hamburg will meet in the semifinals on Thursday (May 23).

“With him back, we’re much stronger and everyone is more confident,” Severino said. “Without him, we weren’t as sure about ourselves. I like our chances with him.”

Also in the win over West, junior Luke Shafer scored three times and assisted on another goal before leaving with an injury, while senior Ben Ott added three goals. Jordan Kuss made seven stops in net. Severino liked the way his team cleared and shot the ball and doubled the opposition in ground balls.

And with 16 players graduating, he was happy to get many of his underclassmen, back-ups and junior varsity call-ups into the game for some quality minutes. There were 40 Bulldogs dressed on a crowded Hamburg sideline.

Hamburg moved on to host fourth-seed Iroquois after the Chiefs beat West Seneca East on Tuesday. Severino credited Iroquois with being a much-improved and well-coached team with players that must be accounted for.

The Bulldogs won the semifinal 14-5 over Iroquois and will now have a chance to defend their Class B title against Niagara-Wheatfield on Tuesday, May 28 in the first of a triple-header of championship games (3:30 p.m.) at All-High Stadium.

“We struggled against them during the regular season, of course, without Max, and now we’ve got (mostly) a full team back, and we’ve got to manage the sectional semifinal,” Severino said.

In Class C, Lake Shore ran away with a 24-2 win in a quarterfinal showdown with Salamanca. Fourth-seeded Salamanca never made it a game with No. 5 Lake Shore, which got nine goals from Tommy Scanlan.

Seventh-seeded Eden came close to No. 2 East Aurora, but fell in yet another one-goal game, 6-5. Eden, which advanced after a 17-2 win over Wilson last week, dropped three one-goal games in Class C this year.

Frontier gets another shot at Clarence as the three seed travels to the No. 2 Red Devils, which has played in the last two Section VI Class A finals, winning in 2011. The Falcons, who lost in the same spot and against the identical opponent in last year’s playoffs, also fell to Clarence 7-3 and 9-6 in two games this season.

After getting out to a quick four-goal first-half lead, St. Francis could not sustain that momentum and fell 14-11 to St. Joe’s in the Monsignor Martin semifinal on Tuesday (May 21). The Red Raiders had beaten St. Joe’s by one goal to earn a regular season split. St. Francis also split with Canisius and swept other league semifinalist Nichols. St. Joe’s will meet Timon in the final on May 28.

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