Boston High School: Brian Conway

D3 boys' lax final: D-S 16, No. Reading 6

June, 14, 2012

ALLSTON, Mass. – It took a period, but once the Dover-Sherborn boys' lacrosse team got going, it wouldn’t be denied.

The Raiders scored 11 goals in a row after the opening quarter, turning an early 2-0 deficit into a rout as they defeated North Reading, 16-6, in the MIAA Division 3 state final at Harvard Stadium.

Seniors Jared Spence (4 goals, 3 assists) and Ben Newbert (goal, 5 assists) ended their high school careers in style, with plenty of help in the attacking end from junior Brandon Jaeger (5 goals).

And after so many close calls in years past –- including four losses in the final -– Dover-Sherborn finally has its first state championship.

[+] EnlargeDover-Sherborn Lacrosse
Courtesy of Ryan KilianTwo-time All-American Billy Polk helped Dover-Sherborn win 10 of its first 11 faceoffs and build a lead in Wednesaday's Division 3 state championship game at Harvard Stadium. The Raiders won their first-ever boys' lacrosse title in a 16-6 romp.
“To finally win one was a nice feeling, that’s for sure,” Raiders head coach Brian McLaughlin said. “Especially with the five seniors we have – this is their third time (in a state final).”

A 2-1 deficit after one turned into a 7-2 lead at halftime, with Newbert scoring one of the goals and assisting three others. Jaeger scored twice, with freshman Matt Davies, senior Billy Polk and Spence also getting in on the act in the second period.

The Raiders (19-4) dominated the faceoffs, with Polk and junior Keaton Stoner combining to win 10 of the 11 faceoffs in the first half.

“If you can keep getting the ball in lacrosse, it’s tough for the other team,” McLaughlin said. “Since we controlled the ball and ran our offense through, it was a big plus for us.”

It was more of the same in the third period, as Davies, Spence and junior Matt Huemme all scored within the first four minutes to make it 10-2. D-S continued to dominate possession in the middle of the quarter, with only a couple saves by Hornet senior goalie Brian Conway on Newbert preventing the Raiders from increasing their lead.

They eventually did, however, with goals from seniors Peter Kostokos and Chris Flight to make it 12-2. North Reading senior Eric Valenti whipped on in from 15 yards out to finally stop the Radiers’ run with 1:13 left to go in the frame. Valenti and Jaeger swapped goals in the final minute of the period, and it was 13-4 in favor of D-S going into the fourth.

North Reading (22-2) head coach Chuck Campobasso credited Dover-Sherborn’s ability to keep control of the ball and limit his team’s opportunities.

“We didn’t have possession because they’re unbelievable,” Campobasso said. “They’re not gonna turn the ball over, they’re not gonna make mistakes.”

Spence scored 1:18 into the fourth to make it 14-4. Junior Michael O’Brien and senior Cody Carbone gave Hornet fans something to cheer about with back-to-back goals, making it 14-6, but Jaeger put the exclamation point on the Raiders’ fantastic season with his fourth and fifth goals in the closing minutes of the game.

North Reading started off strong, scoring the game’s first two goals. Junior Cameron Knight opened the scoring 2:02 in with a well-placed bounce shot from 14 yards out. Junior Anthony Lytle made it 2-0 with 5:20 to play in the first period, taking a pass from Valenti and going top shelf over D-S junior goalie Ryan Goodall’s shoulder.

Spence got the Raiders on the board just 35 seconds later with a goal from close range. Polk started the play with an excellent run from midfield, dodging three North Reading players in the process.

The Hornets outshot D-S in the first 12 minutes, 6-3, but Goodall made some good stops toward the end of the period to keep it a one-goal game.

“He made some great saves,” McLaughlin said. “They have a great offense, and they shot well. [Goodall] came up big for us.”

Newbert said he and his teammates were rushing their attack in the first quarter, but a more patient approach in the second turned the tide.

“After the first quarter, our coaches told us, ‘We’re not gonna get them back in the first 10 seconds. Just settle down; we got a whole game to play,’” Newbert said. “That’s what we did. We didn’t force the passes in the middle, and kids really ran their routes, made the cuts. Once that kinda settled us down, we really started getting going.”

Sophomore defenseman Zach Ambrosino played a solid game for Dover-Sherborn, picking up a couple key ground balls in his own zone to prevent the Hornets’ talented attackmen from getting shots on goal.

Valenti had two goals and two assists in his final game for North Reading. He’s one of eight seniors whom Campobasso said will have a long-lasting effect on the program.

“You see the excitement at some of our games, with some of the youth guys that they want to play for North Reading High School,” Campobasso said. “That’s their legacy…This is unbelievable, but it’s gonna be long-term with the amount of kids that are going to be coming out to play for us.”

This was the Raiders’ day, however, and one they went through plenty of growing pains to get to. The team lost in overtime to Scituate in the 2009 state championship, and fell by a goal in last year’s final to Weston.

Dover-Sherborn has been knocking on the door a long time. Wednesday, they finally burst through.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Newbert said. “More than anything, our coach, he’s been here so many times, and to finally win it for us and him, it was just a great way for us to go out."

D3 boys' lax: North Reading 8, Austin Prep 4

June, 1, 2012
NORTH READING, Mass. -- Mike O’Brien has been a do-it-all type of player for North Reading all season long. He takes faceoffs, he plays offense, he plays defense and he plays on special teams. Without him, the Hornets might not be as successful as they have been this season.

And without Mike O’Brien, North Reading might be pondering its summer plans rather than looking ahead to next round of the tournament.

The junior scored three goals and added an assist while jumpstarting a 7-0, second-half run that helped the No. 2 Hornets take an 8-4 victory over No. 15 Austin Prep in a Division 3 first round matchup.

After the Cougars (13-7) held North Reading scoreless for the first half while taking a 2-0 lead, it was O’Brien who finally got them on the scoreboard. The Prep defense kept long poles attached to the hips of the Hornets high scoring duo of Cody Carbone and Erik Valenti, but O’Brien took advantage of the open space to whip a sidewinder shot from up top.

“We just isolated the person up top,” O’Brien explained. “Whoever drew the short stick, we just had them dodge, and we thought we could take advantage of them there.”

Austin responded with a goal from Brian Haas, but O’Brien came back just over a minute later with his second tally. That forced the Cougars to step out on him and freed up space for Valenti and Carbone to score the next two, the latter coming off a feed by O’Brien to Carbone in the middle for a quick snipe that put the Hornets ahead, 4-3.

“Mike is our unsung hero and no one realizes what he means to this team,” praised North Reading coach Chuck Campobasso. “He takes every faceoff, I can trust him on defense, I can trust him on offense and when he gets open on the crease he gets rid of it real quick. He’s just one of those guys that, when other teams are so worried about Cody and Erik, all of sudden Mike seems to pop open and he takes advantage of it.”

“We don’t have the success we’ve had without him. Even today, Austin put poles on Erik and Cody and we have one middie with a shorty, who is going to take advantage of it? For us, we’ve been lucky to have Mike do that.”

Billy Sexton scored twice, then Valenti and O’Brien added the last two in what was a 7-0 stretch that put the game out of reach.

Valenti finished with two goals and an assist for the Hornets, while Carbone, a 300-point scorer for his career, added a goal and an assist. While admitting that the Hornets need to put together a more consistent effort as they advance in the tournament, he also put his finger on what helped the offense find its groove.

“I think we had more cuts and people were moving more offensively,” Carbone described. “We were able to find the cutters and hit our shots. They were really worried about the crease guy so whenever they slid, we had a guy wide open.”

Given that these two teams battled to an overtime game during the regular season that ended in a 7-6 Hornets win, it was no surprise that the defenses took center stage early on.

Austin Prep standouts Scott Corcoran (Merrimack commit), Phil Capello (St. Mary’s of Maryland), Steve Jepeal, Will Leramer and Christian Rappa all contributed to several forced turnovers and numerous unforced errors while keeping North Reading off the scoreboard in the first half.

The Hornets were equally as strong in their own end behind Connor Murnane, Phil Bishop, Brian Smith and Chris Schipelliti. It was that group, along with goalie Brian Conway (13 saves) that held the fort until the offense got on track.

“They are a tremendous group of guys. I have the poles, I have the LSM, and I was rolling four different short-stick middies today,” Campobasso said. “I’m very lucky we have guys who understand what we’re trying to do. We’re not doing anything too complicated but they are good at it. They understand when to slide, when not to slide, when to cheat a little bit.”

“They are the backbone and a lot of people don’t think that. When they come here, they assume if they can outscore Cody and Erik, they’ll be okay but then they realize they can’t outscore them because our D is pretty good.”