CONCORD, Mass. -- A few weeks ago, Concord-Carlisle needed a three-goal rally to defeat Dual County League foe Weston by one goal to preserve their perfect season.
On Thursday, the Patriots (12-0) relied on senior faceoff extraordinaire, Kevin Delehey (2G, 1A), who jumpstarted his team’s offense with five consecutive faceoff wins in the opening quarter, which helped C-C earn a two-goal lead that eventually ballooned into an 8-3 victory against the Wildcats.
“I was a little bit worried at halftime [because] we’ve had the ball the whole game, but I think our guys feed off each other, and we kept winning faceoffs and finally we sort of broke them down a little bit [and] separated enough to pull away,” C-C head coach Tom Dalicandro said.
The win also provided the Patriots with their fourth DCL Small conference crown.
“We didn’t want to be the team to [be remembered as the unit] that didn’t win the league [or] had to share their league with Weston,” said C-C senior Jackson Finigan, who finished the game with a hat trick. “We didn’t want to be those guys, so we knew our goal coming into the game and we finished strong.”
C-C’s offense dictated the first 7:50 of the contest by registering three tallies –- two by Finigan (3G, 1A), one by Delehey -– before Weston (10-4) capitalized on a late transition goal by senior Harrison Fontaine with 36 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The Patriots responded halfway through the second when Finigan tallied his third goal of the period before the Wildcats closed the half with a ‘man up’ goal by senior Joey Pasquale.
“Our coaches were talking to us before the game, they talked about how we’re going to have to run by sticks and that’s all we did the entire game. They tried to take my left away every single time it looked like, they would almost double team me in the middle, and then I would just keep pushing left and finish every single time,” Finigan said of his three-goal first half.
Once the third quarter commenced, C-C took advantage of various Weston mistakes and two man-up situations to push themselves ahead for good, as Delehey, juniors Charlie Painter and Graham Hunt, and freshman Will Blumenberg (1G, 1A) each netted one strike to secure the Patriots sixth division win of the season.
“We just decided that we had to push [in the second half],” Finigan said. “We talked about it all year, 10 goals has been the limit, we didn’t get there today, but we came out strong both in the first half and the start of the second, and I think it was really nice because it gave our defense a break for the first time, they’ve been holding us down every single day and ever single game they’ve been like the leader of our team, and we gave them a good break.”
Faceoffs Fueled the Patriots
Kevin Delehey may not be the biggest player on the field, but despite his average frame, he still knows how to defeat opponents at the face-off X.
“I practice a lot with my reaction time. Before games, I try to work on my clamps every pre-game warm up, and I’m not bigger than most kids, so I try to get a quick move off and get the ball out as fast as I can,” said the senior midfielder.
Against Weston, Delehey managed to win 10 faceoffs.
“It was really great because we got to possess the ball so much [following faceoffs], and any time we can keep the ball out of the hands of such a talented offense like Weston, it’s really nice,” Delehey said.
“He did a great job on face-offs,” Dalicandro added. “I think he won a lot of them to himself, it wasn’t like the wing play was really involved. Usually we split him and Will [Blumenberg], but he was winning so many that we kept him going, and that was a huge advantage for us. ”
Numerous Penalties Plagued Weston’s Attack
Weston recorded eight penalties, six of them in the second half, derailing their attack and allowing the Patriots to maintain momentum for the majority of the contest.
“You take penalties against C-C, and they’re going to hurt you because they have such good ball movement and they just have a lot of different guys that can shoot the ball, so we had to really play discipline defense, and part of that was on us and part of it is C-C creating those situations,” Weston head coach Jim Wilcon said. “Part of it’s on us, part of it is credit to C-C and that was just a piece of the game.”