NEEDHAM, Mass. -- It was anyone’s game half way through the third quarter.
But after Needham midfielder Mark Riley scored with 5:46 remaining in the third it was all Rockets, going on a 10-to-1 run to close out their Division 1 boys' lacrosse first-round tournament game with No. 12 seed Westford Academy, winning 16-7.
Riley (4 goals, 1 assist) started his run from the top of the restraining line, went to his right and ripped off a quick low shot for the score. But the All-American was quick to deflect the glory after the game.
“That was a big goal, but right after that goal James Caruso our face-off guy started winning them,” Riely said after the victory. “We got three [faceoffs] in a row and that really changed the momentum of the game, so I got to owe it to him, give him credit”
Needham head coach Dave Wainwright echoed Riley’s sentiments.
“James Caruso won, I think, at least five faceoff’s for us in a row, and our offense was able to capitalize on that.”
The Rockets had seven different goal scorers, but it took Needham two and a half quarters to get their offense going thanks to the excellent play of Westford Academy’s freshman goalie Peter Hargrave.
“He was tremendous throughout the game,” Grey Ghost’s head coach Gus Bickford said of his goaltender. “What ended up happening to us was that we didn’t have the ball in the offensive zone in the third and fourth quarter.”
Westford Academy ended its season at 15-7 and claimed a share of the Dual County Large Championship for the first time in school history along the way.
“The two words we used all season were effort and attitude, and it came from the top,” Bickford said referring to his graduating seniors.
Westford Academy has a strong group of underclassmen returning next season including Hargrave and freshman attacker Jay Drapeau, who had four goals on the evening.
Needham (17-2) will play Masconomet (18-1) on Wednesday in a quarterfinal and the Rockets know they’ll need to improve if they hope to advance.
“Every single one of our guys made a mistake, and they all accepted their responsibility for it,” Wainwright said postgame.
“Everything,” Riley added when asked what the Rockets needed to improve on. “We came out slow, we’ve got to get up early, Masconomet is a good team.”