ALLSTON, Mass. -- With their season series tied at one, last night's Division 1 North final between Dual County League rivals Acton-Boxborough and Lincoln-Sudbury seemed primed to end yesterday's tripleheader at Harvard with a flourish.
It didn't disappoint.
The Warriors and Colonials tore the house down at Harvard Stadium for 48 minutes, and at the final horn it was A-B surviving with an 8-7 win and a trip to Saturday's state final.
“Always playing L-S is a rivalry,” Acton-Boxboro midfielder Chris Wiggins said. “Last year we lost all three games, but this year we're 2-1. It's a big step up. I think it was just the heart. We never really wanted it bad last year. This year this is the only thing we wanted; we wanted to beat L-S.”
With the game tied at five after three quarters both sides played a final 12 minutes that will not soon be forgotten by any in attendance.
A-B's Hunter Arnold and Wiggins scored goals 19 seconds apart before the Warriors responded with goals by Greg Roder and Connor McCarthy.
With all of the Colonials’ vaunted weapons it was an unlikely hero who scored the winning goal. Sophomore Peter Hatch put home a goal with just over three minutes left, and the Colonials defense held the rest of the way. Hatch was one of six different goal scorers for the Colonials.
Joe Cormier, who had a hat trick for the Colonials, said the depth provides an added confidence for the squad.
“It's so relieving,” Cormier said. “You don't second guess yourself. It makes the game that much faster, it makes the defense move that much more, and inevitably more goals.”
L-S hurt its own cause with seven penalties in the game, and the Colonials made them pay. A-B scored three times in man-up situations.
“We've been working on it quite a bit so we've been better as of late,” A-B coach Pat Ammendolia said of his team's man up. “It's not anything I’m giving them it's just them making plays. I don't a heck of a lot of coaching. I just put them in the right spots and let them make plays.”
L-S had its chances to finish but failed to do so. Two chances right on the crease in the waning minutes failed to find twine.
“I think they had better intensity throughout the game,” L-S coach Brian Vona said. “We had a lot of intensity too, but I don't think we matched their intensity throughout the game. I think we had it in spurts. I really just think they executed.”
The Warriors were led offensively by a pair of goals from Eric Holden and a one-goal, one-assist game from Harlan Smart.
SEXTON GOES DOWN: It is safe to say that John Sexton was Lincoln-Sudbury's anchor. The senior long-stick midfielder was a star on defense, controlled the faceoff X, and had the green light to shoot. However, the Warriors had to play over half the game without him as Sexton went down with a leg injury in the second quarter.
“Sexton left a legacy here of kids that want to work hard,” Vona said. “That kid willed us the last couple of years. He's a great player on the field, but off the field he's really special.
“One of the kids said it best, John led us all year to this moment. He made all the kids game ready in case he went down, and the kids played hard.”6
For Ammendolia, who coached against Sexton for four years, winning the title without the Under Armour All-American on the field took a little sheen off the festivities.
“You hate to see Johnny Sexton go down, he's a heck of a player,” Ammendolia said. “It's too bad we had to win without him on the field.”