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D3 South: Medway 4, Rockland 1

BOURNE, Mass. –- Josh O’Toole was the easiest player to spot in the Medway locker room after Sunday’s Division 3-South championship game against Rockland.

O’Toole was the Mustang wearing the plastic cowboy hat with the name “MEDWAY” in capital letters on the front.

Turns out the hat is awarded to the Mustangs’ player of the game – an honor O’Toole earned by scoring 10th-seeded Medway’s first two goals in a 4-1 victory over fifth-seeded Rockland.

“At first we were a little nervous coming in,” O’Toole said referring to the fact Rockland (17-6-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead on John Mulready’s unassisted goal at 10:00 of the first period. “But we knew that they would be tired toward the end because they run two lines and we try to run three most of the time.

“We kind of gained the momentum and kept it going.”

O’Toole tied the game at 3:03 of the second.

Jake O’Rouke won a faceoff to Mike Boldy in Rockland’s end and, after Boldy passed to O’Toole, the sophomore forward snapped a shot by Trevor Trudeau (26 saves).

O’Toole scored what proved to be the game-winner at 6:42.

“Jake O’Rouke shot it from up top and it fell down,” O’Toole said. “I pretty much just whacked it in.”

Ironically, O’Toole’s goals upped his season total to a modest eight. But the fact Medway (18-6-1) held Rockland to a mere 13 shots was perhaps an even bigger factor in the outcome.

“Our game all year has been to play good, solid team defense,” Medway coach Chris Ross said. “I grew up playing for [perennial Rhode Island state champion] Mount St. Charles and I try to bring a little Mount St. Charles to Medway.

“It was my goal to play good team defense the whole season.”

SLOW START

Ross was quick to admit that wasn’t the case in the first period which ended with the Bulldogs leading 1-0.

“I thought we got away from our game of playing good, solid defense especially from our forechecking perspective,” Ross said. “I thought we started getting into a game where we were running around too much with them.

“The game was up-and-down in that first period and I wanted to slow down the pace and hold them in check. But I knew 7 (Kevin Sheehan) and 9 (Mulready) were out there two-thirds of the game."

Sheehan and Mulready each are 100-point career scorers.

“I knew we were in good condition,” Ross added, “and that come the second and third period they were going to start wearing down a little bit.”

Medway then scored what proved to be the proverbial back-breaker at 13:09 of the third when O’Rouke skated across the crease and stuffed a back-hander by Trudeau to give the Mustangs a 3-1 lead.

“All the coaches on the benches turned to each other and looked at each other and sighed because it was a big relief,” Ross said of O’Rouke’s goal.

Tim King then scored into an empty net with 1:43 left in regulation.

NARDUCCI ROCK SOLID

Even though Medway goalie Mike Narducci was called on to make only 12 saves, Ross heaped praise on his junior goalie who’s been a key Mustang all season.

“Mike Narducci is unbelievable,” Ross said. “I think he’s proven he’s one of the best goalies in the state. He’s so solid and I’m so glad we’ve got him coming back next year.”

What made the victory even more satisfying for Ross was that it came in his first season as Medway’s head coach and enabled the Mustangs to venture into unchartered territory.

“The quarterfinals were the farthest we’ve ever been,” Ross said. “They came in as the number one seed. But I thought we had a good chance because we’ve played tough teams all year.”