By Mike Flanagan

BEDFORD, N.H. — Through their first 19 games of the 2021 season, No. 24 Bishop Guertin (Nashua, N.H.) was hardly tested. The Cardinals marched through their competition in the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association (NHIAA) – setting the table for Saturday’s Division 1 State Championship game against Exeter (16-3) in Bedford, NH.

Throughout the week leading up to the game, many questioned whether this game would even be competitive considering the talent and number of college lacrosse commits on BG’s roster (10) compared to Exeter’s four.


After a quarter, it was clear that Exeter was more than just a formidable opponent, as the Blue Hawks came out of their corner swinging – with four goals, two from Connor Holly (NH Tomahawks, UMass) and two from Jake Mantell, along with some key saves in net by sophomore Ryan Tatman (NH Tomahawks) helping Exeter pitch the first-quarter shutout and carry a 4-0 edge into the second.

Despite the slow start, and the inspired play from an inspired Blue Hawks squad, BG would run off five straight goals in the second quarter and hang on for a 9-7 win and a very special state Championship for the Cardinal program.

A Battle

“We battled,” said Bishop Guertin head coach Chris Cameron “The way we answered to go up 5-4 was huge. {Today} was the first time we were in a tight game. I think our tightest game before this was six goals so it was great to see these seniors step up and take over the game.”

It may have taken an entire quarter for Bishop Guertin’s high-powered offense to get going, but the reward was well worth the wait. With 9:52 to play in the second quarter, Declan Wilkie (Sacred Heart) fired home a goal to spark a 5-0 run by the Cardinals to take a 5-4 lead into halftime.

With Exeter refusing to go away and the game tied at six at the end of three quarters, BG’s core of seniors rose to the challenge. Nick McGovern (NH Tomahawks, Bentley) scored twice, a dodge down the left alley and finish down low along with a righty cannon up high in the center-box to go along with a lefty rip from Michael Kiely (NH Tomahawks, Colgate) to claim a 9-6 lead for BG with just over six minutes to play. Aiden Drunsic (NH Tomahawks, UMass) was able to cut into the deficit at 9-7 with just over a minute to play but it was too little too late. BG was able to chew out the remainder of the clock for the 9-7 win to take the Division I state championship.

“This means everything,” said Wilkie following the win. “It’s really amazing to see everything from the past few months come together.”

Standouts from Bishop Guertin vs. Exeter

Nick McGovern, ’21, Midfield, Bishop Guertin (Bentley, NH Tomahawks)

Leading 7-6 midway through the fourth quarter, McGovern scored back-to-back goals to put BG ahead by three and seal the state championship. McGovern plays a hard-nosed style of lacrosse and welcomes contact on his dodges. He’s the type of guy you give the ball and trust to go to the cage in big moments, and that’s exactly what McGovern did on Saturday.

JJ Murphy, ’22, Face-off/Midfield, Bishop Guertin (Bryant, NH Tomahawks)

Playing through injury, Murphy still managed to go 19-of-20 on faceoffs and added an assist. His coach Chris Cameron said it best.

“When you’re winning 95-percent of face-offs in a close game like this, it’s huge. I don’t think he’s fully healthy so the fact that he put together that type of performance while playing through something is remarkable.”

Chris Heitmiller, ’21, Midfield, Bishop Guertin (NH Tomahawks)

The sharpshooting of Heitmiller played a pivotal part in Bishop Guertin’s 5-0 second-quarter run. Heitmiller’s scored the 4-2 goal with a righty crank on the man-up before tying the game at four with a lefty rip on the run. A guy who can shoot with such power from both sides will always play a big role on offense. Heitmiller certainly did on Saturday.

Ryan Tatman, ’23, Goalie, Exeter (NH Tomahawks)

Tatman did everything he possibly could to keep Exeter in this game with 14 saves on the afternoon. Had it not been for Tatman’s excellence in net, this could have gotten out of hand quickly. It certainly was not the result that Tatman and his teammates wanted but holding a lethal offense like Bishop Guertin’s to only nine goals deserves recognition.

Box Score

Bishop Guertin 9, Exeter 7

Bishop Guertin – 0,5,1,3 – 9

Exeter – 4,0,2,1 – 7

Key Stats

Bishop Guertin

Nick McGovern – 2g,1a

Declan Wilkie – 2g

Michael Kiely – 1g,2a

Chris Heitmiller – 2g,1a

Brady Dumont – 1a

Jon Krikorian – 1g

Chris Bouvier – 1g

JJ Murphy – 19-of-20 face-offs, 1a

Zach Connerty – 7 saves


Connor Holly – 3g

Aiden Drunsic – 1g,1a

Jake Mantell – 2g

Spencer Clark – 1g,1a

Hayden Lechner – 1g

Ryan Tatman – 14 saves