FOXBORO, Mass. — Former Pinkerton Academy stand-out and Derry native Steve Boyle returned to New England this weekend to compete in the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship at Gillette Stadium as a member of the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays.
Unfortunately for Boyle, Syracuse University spoiled his homecoming with a 6-5 lead at the half and never looking back to win 13-10.
"It hurts to lose a game like this," Boyle said with tears in his eyes after the game. "You can't put it into words, we wanted a 'W' and it didn't happen."
Despite being about two hours from his house, Boyle played in what was effectively a road game with Syracuse orange outdrawing Hopkins baby-blue in the NCAA-championship-record crowd of 48,970 by at least a two-to-one ratio. BCS games aren't official NCAA events.
"It's great to be back in the area," Boyle said. "We are bringing some great lacrosse ... to the area, it is very exciting. I had a bunch of family and friends and guys I used to play with here for the game."
Boyle's only contribution on the score sheet came with 8.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter. He received a pass behind the net, and using the shiftiness he learned on the football field at Pinkerton to beat a defender and the Syracuse goaltender, John Galloway, to put Johns Hopkins up 4-2. Boyle also had two goals and an assist in Johns Hopkins' stunning 10-9 win over top-seeded Duke in the semifinals on Saturday.
"I saw the clock was low and I saw some space and stuck my nose in there," Boyle said. "I was just trying to make a play."
Boyle was one of the most prolific scorers in the history of New Hampshire lacrosse, totaling 434 points over four varsity seasons at Pinkerton Academy, including 100-point seasons as a sophomore (52 goals, 53 assists), junior (75 goals, 61 assists) and senior (50 goals, 72 assists).
Those numbers made Boyle a four-time New Hampshire All-State honoree and the New Hampshire Offensive Player of the Year in his last three seasons with the Astros.
For Boyle, lacrosse is a family tradition. His older brother Brian was a standout at Pinkerton before attending Penn State, where he became the all-time leading scorer in the history of the program. Brian is now a member of the Boston Cannons of Major League Lacrosse after being drafted in the 6th round this year.
Steve Boyle continued his dominance from his very first game in college, a 7-6 overtime win over Princeton in which Boyle scored three times. By the end of his freshman campaign, Boyle had 37 points — good for second on the team, was an honorable mention for the All-American team, and a National Champion after a 12-11 victory over Duke.
For Boyle, the pressure of big expectations and big games is something to which he grew accustomed, having played in three New Hampshire state championships as a member of Pinkerton — including a title win in his senior season.
This season Boyle took a bit of a step back, notching just 34 points including his goal in the championship game, good for third on the team.
"I am thrilled with his performance these first two years," Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala said. "We all know sophomore year can be tougher, especially after the freshman year he had. He drew every opponent's best cover defenseman in every game all season."
With Hopkins' top two scorers Paul Rabil and Kevin Huntley both graduating this season, the Blue Jays' hopes of a third-consecutive title game appearance fall heavily upon Boyle, but his coaching staff is not worried.
"We are going to really count on him next year to lead this team," Pietramala said. "It's a big summer for him, but I am confident he will answer the bell."