- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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SUDBURY, Mass. – In recent memory, both Lincoln-Sudbury and Wellesley lacrosse have been staples in making deep runs in their respective divisions.
However, as Wellesley steps up to Division 1 from the D2 ranks this season, the Raiders got a sample of what they’ll encounter if they want to make another postseason drive in Thursday’s matchup with the Warriors.
Although Wellesley tried its best to draw even with a third-quarter comeback, L-S held on for a 5-3 win.
The defending Division 1 state finalists never trailed in the contest and ran out to a 2-0 lead at the end of the first on goals by Austin Barta and Chris Brindisi. Mike O’Connell added a third goal before the Raiders’ Tucker Dietrick broke up the shutout with less than three minutes to play in the half.
Wellesley (1-1) made its run in the third, winning the ground ball battle in the frame, 6-2. After Nick Brindisi’s goal gave L-S (2-0) its largest lead of the day at 4-1, the Raiders drew within a goal again on tallies from John Caraviello and Kerry Lyne.
Yet, the Warriors responded with a nice cutting goal from Colby Hall with Eric Holden hitting the University of Denver commit midstride on the feed.
Despite a couple of hit posts from both sides, the fourth quarter closed
“I think L-S is a little more toward mid-season and we’re a little more toward preseason,” Wellesley head coach Rocky Batty said. “I think there was a bunch to learn from today.”
X-factor: Wellesley’s third-quarter run came via a recommitment to winning ground balls in the midfield, accompanied by a slight variation in offensive attack.
“One of the places we had trouble with ground balls was at the faceoff X,” Batty said. “Tucker [Dietrick] did a good job of winning the draws, but John Sexton was just so tough in saying, ‘I lost the draw, but I’m going to win the ball.’
Both of the Raiders’ third-quarter goals came off of defensive ground ball wins. Then, in the offensive half of the field, they were able to get clean looks at the cage.
“We won the ground balls and we changed our strategy to go after their poles,” Batty said. “We just went for three, four straight possessions and we had some success.”
Closing stride: With several of its offensive mainstays out due to injury and facing a Wellesley side which was coming off an impressive 18-goal performance against Billerica, L-S looked to its defensive stalwarts to shut down a potent Raiders’ attack.
Enter Notre Dame-bound long-stick midfielder John Sexton.
“He played great,” Warriors head coach Brian Vona said of Sexton, “and he played against a great player in [attack Matt] Dziama – he’s the real deal.”
While Sexton turned in a multifaceted performance, slowing down one of Wellesley’s chief offensive threats and stepping in on face-off duty, it was put upon Matt Barker in close defense to mitigate the impact of Caraviello, who put in seven goals against Billerica previously. In a matchup of future Trinity College teammates, Barker disrupted the flow of the Raiders’ offense throughout, particularly in the fourth quarter, with the Warriors buckling down to close out the victory.