D1 South: Duxbury 10, Wellesley 5

DUXBURY, Mass. – Throughout this season, the defense has carried Duxbury lacrosse. While Thursday’s Division 1 South sectional semifinal was no exception, the Dragons’ offense has rounded into shape as well – evidenced by their five straight goals while pulling away from Wellesley for their 10-5 win.

Seven different Dragons scored, showcasing a balanced attack that prides itself in possession.

“The defense, they’ve been doing it for us all year,” Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet said. “Nick’s [Marrocco] been making the key saves. But our offense plays a big role in our defense now – taking care of the ball and not creating too many turnovers.

After holding on to just a 3-2 lead through the first quarter, Duxbury (18-3) ran off a streak of five goals through the second and third quarters.

“I don’t think there were a whole lot of changes that affected the game,” Raiders head coach Rocky Batty said. “I think the mental acuity of the white team [Duxbury] was just better than that of the black team.”

Brendan Burke, Niall Dillon and Wes Quinzani led Duxbury with two goals each.

Meanwhile, the Dragons’ defense did its job. Having allowed an average of less than four goals per game during the season, including three regular-season shutouts, Duxbury limited the Raiders’ offensive chances by holding on to the ball. When in the defensive half, Duxbury’s defensive corps – led by Hunter Marston, Victor Moitinho and Liam Stauss – took care of the rest.

“If we can keep it under six goals, that’s usually our goal,” Stauss said. “We watched some film on them and we saw that they like to shoot, so we wanted to get on their hands a lot and put a lot of pressure on them – just make them less comfortable when they have the ball.”

Duxbury advances to the sectional final to be played Tuesday (time TBA) at Harvard Stadium.

On a roll: At times, earlier this season, Duxbury fell into offensive funks. But that isn’t the group that showed up on Thursday.

“We’re not going to overwhelm you on offense, but we’ve done a pretty good job of taking care of the ball,” Sweet said.

It might not be like year’s past when the Dragons simply overwhelmed their opponents with an array of skill. But Sweet feels confident in his group’s ability to rise to the occasion, such as Thursday, when they could have been frustrated by Wellesley’s persistent defense.

We haven’t had many of those runs this year, so it felt good,” Sweet said. “[It] brought back some memories.”

Confidence game: Marrocco – a strong candidate for the Mr. Lacrosse award – has been a rock all season. And the play of Duxbury’s goalkeeper has added benefits.

“We all have a lot of confidence in each other, especially with Nick [Marrocco] in goal,” Stauss said. “Even if we get beat, most of the time we’ll be fine because he’s unreal.”

Earlier this season, Marrocco reflected that opinion of the poles in front of him – saying his confidence in the defense in front of him allows him to play more aggressively. That symbiotic relationship also pays dividends in the play of Duxbury’s D-men.

While Stauss took primary duties against dynamic Wellesley attack John Caraviello, he maintained there’s no specific “matchup” the Dragons look to slide to on defense. The confidence is there that the next man up will get the job done.

“We have confidence in each other,” Stauss said.

End of the road: Despite the lack of a second-half pushback, Batty chose to look back on the season as a whole instead of Thursday’s setback.

“I enjoyed the season a lot more than I did today,” Batty said. “We just told the guys we were proud of them. Pretty shortly the season will be the thing that’s in their minds. Today was just a rainy day, it’ll be the locker room time and the bus rides that they’ll remember.”