DUXBURY, Mass. -- It was what you’d expect from two of the top lacrosse programs in the nation, with top-notch defense and big-time goaltending.
Then again, it wasn’t (i.e. offense was something to be desired).
As MIAA lacrosse top dog Duxbury squared off against New York power Irondequoit Saturday, the two ESPNHS FAB 50 squads showed how they are built from the back end out. The result was a tightly played game with a score that resembled more of a baseball game than a lacrosse match.
Irondequoit escaped their Bay State journey with a 4-3 win over the Dragons despite being shut out in the second half.
The margin of victory largely was indicative of the fact that the Eagles (5-0) converted on more of their early chances than did the Dragons (2-1).
“We struggled to score,” Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet said. “But that’s a high-powered offense on the other side and they struggled to score, too. It’s unusual, a 4-3 game.”
For a game where both sides’ defensive units outplayed their offensive group, both teams were off and running during the fourth minute of play.
Nick Doktor put the Eagles to the first lead of the game on a dodge, only to see Duxbury attack Paul Hellar tie the score 22 seconds later.
The Dragons were able to bounce back again when Gunnar Miller notched his first of two goals with 5:32 remaining in the first. Duxbury’s Sam Sweet countered with the first of his two tallies less than a minute later with an assist from Andrew Buron.
Irondequoit rallied for two goals in the second quarter. Connor Enright showed off his quick hands, pulling in a pass from Doktor at the top of the crease, going across his body and beat Dragons goaltender Henry Buonagurio (11 saves). Miller then score what held up as the game-winner with 5:55 remaining in the first half.
“We finished our shots early, we were ready to go and I think everybody was on the same page and working really well together,” Irondequoit head coach Craig Whipple said. “But I think you saw Duxbury keep working during the game and they got to an area where they were doing the same thing and battled back to make it a one-goal game in the end.”
Duxbury cut the lead to one on Sam Sweet’s second of the game in the third quarter, with Hellar picking up his second point of the game on the assist.
The Dragons had several prolonged possessions in the latter stages of the third and into the fourth. Still, Duxbury looked out of sorts at times offensively and saw a string of blocked or missed shots fail to hit their mark. Whatever else made its way through to the cage was gobbled up by Eagles netminder Eric Fischer (10 saves).
AGAINST THE DRAGONS’ FIRE
Whipple and his Irondequoit squad knew what they were getting into on Saturday, having faced the Dragons in each of the last three season.
Duxbury claimed the teams’ previous two meetings.
“Duxbury’s known for their defense and I think our defense play up to that task,” Whipple said. “They had multiple possessions of long, three- to four-minute possessions on offense, but I think our talk, our discipline and really Eric Fischer from the goal did an outstanding job making the saves he needed to make.”
Even in defeat, the Dragons showed their defensive mettle with strong games from longsticks Jay McDermott, Matt O’Keefe and Max Randall, as well as some sensational play from Buonagurio in net, particularly during a five-save third quarter.
… WITH THAT BEING SAID
Duxbury’s offense struggled some — particularly in the second quarter — getting clean looks at the cage. Some of that was to be attributed by a fleet-footed Eagles defense, but part of it was also of the Dragons’ own doing.
“As the season goes on, shooting gets better, offensive movement gets better and our stick work gets better,” Chris Sweet said. “We were pretty stagnant, but a lot of that was that Irondequoit is such a good team that they took a lot of that away.
“On any day, we need to bring out A-game to beat Irondequoit, but today, we were maybe a B-plus.”