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Sunday, May 18, 2014
Recap: No. 2 A-B 13, No. 1 Needham 6

By Mike Abelson

ACTON, Mass. -- After the pomp and pageantry of senior night had worn off, Acton-Boxborough was faced with a four-goal deficit 10 minutes into its game against a Needham team that won the first six faceoffs of the game.

The Colonials adjusted and remedied the situation with seven straight goals en route to a 13-6 thrashing of the Rockets in front of nearly 1,000 people at Leary Field.

“We had a slow start,” A-B's Hunter Arnold said. “Senior night we had a lot of guys who don't usually start playing. Everyone stepped up. We were down 4-0 and realized we had to turn it on to win. Needham's a good team, but we brought it tonight.”

Arnold quarterbacked the Colonials’ attack with five goals, four of which came in the second half. Overall, six different Colonials scored.

The tide began turning when A-B figured out Needham's 10-man ride. The Colonials forced the ball through the middle with fast midfielders and pushed the game into transition whenever it could. The defense also did its part pushing the pace, forcing Needham into 11 turnovers.

“I think we had a lot of transition goals,” A-B head coach Pat Ammendolia said. “We have a lot of guys that can score, and any one of them can go off. They can all go off; it just depends on when and where.”

Senior midfielder Chris Wiggins stepped to the moment with a four-goal performance. Fellow seniors Joe Cormier and Joey Biggins also had goals.

“End result was ridiculous,” Wiggins said. “We came in hoping to knock them off. We're looking for a state championship and we knew this could potentially be the final so we wanted to show them what we got. Thirteen-to-six, that's a pretty big deficit.”

Needham dominated at the faceoff X (14 wins) and controlled ground balls (25-14), but couldn't adjust properly on offense to stem the A-B run. The Rockets were held scoreless for a stretch of 25:55 between the first and third quarters.

“They figured us out,” Needham head coach Dave Wainwright said. “We got stale on our offense. We threw some balls away and they made us pay. They stepped on our throats and wouldn't let us breathe again. We tried to do some things to get some looks, but it just wasn't in the cards for us tonight. They were prepared and we weren't.”

Jack Walsh had a pair of goals for Needham.

CRIMMINS CONTROL: Every body needs a strong backbone and Sean Crimmins played the role for A-B. The junior goalkeeper turned aside six shots and organized a defense that pressed Needham to the outside and forced into low-percentage shots.

“It all started with number eight in the cage,” Wiggins said of Crimmins. “He held it together; he controls the defense real well. We had a couple guys go at [Mike Panepinto], he's one of the most athletic kids we've seen all year, so I think shutting him down was the main point to stop their offense.”

Crimmins said that the goal was to keep everything simple and slow on the defensive end.

“We were just trying to game manage,” Crimmins said. “They were getting three-minute possessions and a few shots, but they were just moving the ball. We were just trying to keep long possessions, let the time run out. We knew if we got in a gunfight with them we might not win.”