DUXBURY, Mass. -- Duxbury had a sterling opportunity to notch the game-winning goal in the final minute of their stalemate against New York state power Niskayuna on Saturday.
The Dragons went on the man-up inside of a minute remaining, looking for the go-ahead. The Silver Warriors held, but not for good, as Sam Sweet netted the game-winner with 13 seconds to play for an 8-7 Duxbury win.
The strike came better late than never for the Dragons (13-2) who used some nifty transition offense and a 25-11 ground ball advantage to beat the 10th-ranked team I the latest ESPNHS FAB 50 national poll.
“We had a set play set up and we have to keep it in the box because there was a stall warning that kind of screwed with it,” Sweet said. “Then, it got hectic.”
He added, “The penalty expired and I had a shorty on me, so I just took it to the net,” Sweet said.
Without the services of attack Paul Hellar (shoulder injury) through the second half, Duxbury spread out its offensive load. Sweet and fellow attack Seamus Connelly, along with long-stick midfielder James Burke had two goals each.
Burke was also a defensive catalyst, gathering a team-leading six ground balls.
“Duxbury’s a really good team, really athletic,” Niskayuna head coach Mike Vorgang said. “They want to pressure you all over the field and make you put the ball on the ground. They got us out of some of the things we wanted to do on offense, but we were resilient and came back.”
The Silver Warriors (11-1) came back to tie the score on three different occasions in the second half before Sweet’s winner.
“What it told me is that we were able to put together a full 48-minutes of good Duxbury lacrosse, which we’ve kind of been missing until now,” Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet said. “In practice, we went back to basics, passing and catching, and scooping ground balls.”
AND DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME
The teams played a riveting fourth quarter, as the teams traded tallies.
Each time Niskayuna knotted the score up in the period, the Dragons responded within 20 seconds in both instances.
While the Silver Warriors showed glimpses of the offense which has averaged nearly 20 goals per game in the Empire State’s uber-competitive B division, Duxbury’s short-handed attack was ready to counter.
“It’s shows that we can keep our composure, which is huge heading into the playoffs because you’ve got to be able to work through adversity,” Sam Sweet said. “That’s what we were able to do. That’s huge.”
While Hellar’s injury is a situation worth watching, what was impressive is that the Dragons didn’t seem to miss a beat without him in the second.
“He creates so much out there,” Chris Sweet said of Hellar. “I don’t think he’s going to be out too long, hopefully he bounces back quickly. It was an adjustment, but the guys that were out there, stepped up. They kept cool and, again, they didn’t try to do too much. They made plays when they needed to.”