BRAINTREE, Mass. – Even though Steve Rotondi is in his first year as the varsity head coach of Archbishop Williams boys’ lacrosse, memories of last season kept him up nights all offseason. Then as an assistant coach with the Bishops, Rotondi watched his team’s dream of a Catholic Central League championship slip through their fingers when Austin Prep claimed a 7-6 overtime victory on Archies’ home turf last May.
Entering Wednesday night’s league game against that very Cougars squad, the Bishops were certain not to squander such a chance again, as they looked to win the league’s regular-season title outright.
There would be no such heartache for Archies this year as the Bishops scored the last five goals of the contest to wrap up a 14-8 win and a little unfinished business from last year.
“It’s just taking advantage of opportunities,” said Rotondi, who took over for Bob Joyce this season. “We had an opportunity last year and just let it slip. This year, we just had a determined group; they’re buying into the gameplan and it’s really paying off.”
After ending the first quarter tied, 2-2, the Bishops (17-1) opened things up in the second. Archies outscored the Cougars 6-1 in the quarter, thanks to a string of three straight goals from attack Steve Righini (4 goals), starting with a man-up goal at the 7:11 mark.
“Once I get my first goal, I’m just ready to go,” Righini said. “It just kind of happens.”
However, the third quarter belonged to AP (11-6), when the Cougars took advantage of some undisciplined play.
“It was more just cleaning it up in the third quarter,” Rotondi said. “We had five penalties, they scored five goals. We realized we let them back in.”
Sam Morgan’s second goal of the quarter got the Cougars within a goal at 9-8 with 1.1 seconds remaining.
But AP was unable to carry the momentum over into the fourth, when the Bishops finished what they could not a year ago. Senior captain Nick Menzel tallied two of his four goals in the quarter.
Archies’ closing stride was made possible by sophomore midfielder Luke Bernasconi, who has been a key component of the Bishops’ attack winning draws at the faceoff “X.”
“Luke’s been awesome on faceoffs and it’s been huge,” Rotondi said. “The best defense is a good offense, and with Luke winning all those draws – he’s determined, he gets low, he knows how to push it forward to the attack, so then we can set up our ‘O.’”
Rotondi also credited his defense for clamping down in the pivotal fourth quarter, allowing the Bishops to make their final push by studying hard in the lead-up to Wednesday night.
“Pat [McPartlin] and Adam [Burnes] are both very aggressive defensemen,” he said. “They like getting up the field and they know where to be. They’re good at getting through traffic. They look to get it to the attack and they take care of the ball.
“We had a great week of preparation. The D knows who can shoot on their team and they have some great shooters on that team. We knew we had to cut down passing lanes, don’t give them anything on the back side and make them earn it.”