Boston High School: Jack McCready

DUXBURY, Mass. – As Lincoln-Sudbury boys’ lacrosse team kneeled around the crease for a postgame breakdown, with their head coach Brian Vona in goal, they were reminded on what they’d just accomplished. The Warriors’ win Wednesday at No. 1 Duxbury was more than just a victory over the perceived best team in the state this year.

This one was for all that had come before.

[+] EnlargeJack McCready
Scott Barboza/ESPNBoston.comLincoln-Sudbury senior goaltender Jack McCready made 11 saves en route to a 9-7 win over rival Duxbury.
They were reminded of all the previous great L-S teams who – despite their best efforts – could never do one thing – beat the Dragons. The Warriors did just that, 9-7, but not reflected in the sizeable crowd that gathered for Massachusetts’ premiere public school rivalry was all who were with them in thought.

“There were hundreds of alumni, sending us texts, emails, reminding us about how important this game is,” said senior long-stick midfielder John Sexton, a four-year letterman, “how many careers have ended on this field, right here.”

The regular-season meeting between L-S and Duxbury last year was a quadruple-overtime classic, with the Dragons extending their all-time winning streak over the Warriors and Tyler Powers providing the game-winner in an 8-7 decision.

This year’s duel took on the same intensity from the opening faceoff with a frenetic first quarter when L-S (10-3) took a 5-4 lead with one second remaining on a goal by Eric Holden. The Warriors and Dragons (10-3) went tit-for-tat in the second, with L-S taking a 7-6 lead into the half.

Despite holding the lead, L-S was frustrated by Dragons goaltender Nick Marrocco, who made four of his eight saves during the second quarter.

“He’s an awesome goaltender, and I’ll tell you, he broke our spirit a couple times with some of those saves,” Vona said.

Sloppy play held back Duxbury in the second half, as the Dragons committed nine giveaways in the final two quarters. Yet, the Warriors’ stifling defense also had a significant while holding Duxbury off the scoreboard in the third quarter.

“They were doing great in transition, so we were trying to limit their opportunities in transition,” Sexton said. “We were feeling very confident with Jack [McCready] in net behind us and our defense was really working hard for each other out there.”

Sexton scored the lone goal of the third to give L-S an 8-6 lead.

The Warriors amassed their biggest lead of the game with 5:08 remaining in the fourth, when junior attack Mike O’Connell netted his fourth goal of the game off a feed from Nick Brindisi (1 G, 2 A).

Duxbury countered with a goal by Trevor O’Brien at 4:40, assisted by his brother, Shayne (2 G, 2 A), but turnovers again came back to haunt the Dragons in their final two possessions.

“I think we really came together over the last couple weeks,” said Sexton, reflecting on the Warriors’ upset loss to North Andover at the Coaches Challenge Cup. “We have more confidence, we started getting better in practice, working harder.”

‘Third-string’ no more: Vona knew he had a robust defense in place entering the season, with trusted returning starters Matt Barker, Eamon Hunter and Sexton, among others. But the question was in goal where the job was left to senior Jack McCready. A third-string goalie for the Warriors last year, to say McCready was untested would be an understatement.

Following McCready’s 11-save performance against the Dragons, L-S knows exactly what it has.

“He made saves today that I’ve never seen him make,” Barker, a senior close defender, said of McCready. “When people would get beat, I’d turn around and boom – save. I was just mind-blown.”

That has, in turn, instilled an added sense of security for what was already perhaps the state’s best defensive units this season – a scary proposition in the final month of the regular season.

“We love having him behind us because we can play so much more freely,” Sexton said.

Notable quotables: When talking about his teammates’ effort in the midfield, eliminating the Dragons’ transition game in the second half, it was difficult for Sexton to contain his excitement

“Our midfielders were tracking their …,” he said, then inserting a phrase which will be omitted to protect the innocent.

“Pardon me. They were getting back and … working hard.”

Sexton’s salty sentiment underscored a key component to the Warriors’ victory, which had helped Duxbury to a 2-0 lead out of the chute on goals by Shayne O’Brien and Brendan Burke. L-S ground down the pace of the Dragons’ transition play throughout the second half, as Duxbury continued to victimize itself with errant passes.

While the Dragons undoubtedly will come away from the matchup of perennial Division 1 championship contenders feeling as though they left some goals off the board, credit is also due to the Warriors’ confidence in their own half of the field.

“Six-on-six, we had them today,” Barker said.
SUDBURY, Mass. – Even as Lincoln-Sudbury lacrosse found a sliver of daylight in the third quarter of its Dual County League game against Concord-Carlisle, Warriors head coach Brian Vona had anxiety.

“We didn’t feel as though the game was over at that point,” Vona said of the two-goal lead L-S opened up in the third.

But the sixth-ranked Warriors would not relinquish that lead as they again threw the hammer down on defense. L-S hardly allowed the No. 15 Patriots past midfield in the second half, holding them to one goal in the final 24 minutes while cruising to a 9-5 win.

It was one of the state’s most robust defensive units finishing the job once again as the fearsome trio of Matt Barker, Eamon Hunter and John Sexton made scoring chances hard to come by for C-C, while senior goaltender Jack McCready made nine saves.

“Last year, it was our offense that we relied on; this year, it’s our defense,” Vona said. “I love the defense, they’re playing great. I love the intensity they play with. They’ve worked a lot together as a group, so they rely on each other. Jack [McCready] talks a lot directing the defense and that’s the most important thing.”

L-S (9-2) held a slim 5-4 advantage at the half, but watched the Patriots (4-6) draw even early in the third on Tommy Standish’s second goal of the game, assisted by Steven Armanetti (1 G, 2 A).

Eric Holden (2 G, 1 A) provided what stood up to be the game-winning goal with 3:37 remaining in the third before Austin Barta netted his third goal of the game with 1:43 to go. The Warriors added insurance goals in the fourth from Michael Yenke and Harlan Smart (1 G, 1 A).

Meanwhile, defensive midfielder Ryan Koenig stepped in to win some key faceoffs down the stretch, winning three of the game’s final four draws to salt the clock away.

“Concord plays tight-game lacrosse,” Vona said of his opponent, which happens to be coached by former high school teammate Tom Dalicandro. “They’re well-coached, the possess the ball. At that point in the game, we still had a lead, 7-5, but we still needed to win faceoffs.”

Shuffling the deck: While the Warriors’ defense appears in midseason form, they’ve yet to play with a full complement of players on the offensive half of the field.

L-S has lost Denver-bound attack Colby Hall during the season and has been without promising sophomore midfielder Connor McCarthy, who continue his rehab from offseason surgery.

The Warriors only recently saw one of their offensive stalwarts from seasons’ past return, with senior captain Greg Roder returning to the rotation.

“He settles us down,” Vona said of Roder – a four-year letter-winner. “He’s a guy that we know can move the ball and be in control. He’s a great athlete and he plays both ways. He got stuck on defense four times today, and he made great plays.”

Recap: No. 4 Lincoln-Sudbury 11, No. 5 A-B 6

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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ACTON, Mass. -- It started as a battle between two of the top teams in Massachusetts, but in the end it was a statement win for Lincoln-Sudbury.

The Warriors racked up eight second-half goals, and cruised past Dual County League rival Acton-Boxborough, 11-6, Thursday afternoon.

“I'm happy we won,” Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Brian Vona said. “[They’re a] very good team. We're going to play them again and probably again after that in the playoffs.”

A-B led 4-2 early in the third quarter before the Warriors’ motor hit sixth gear and took off.

Eric Holden scored all three of his goals in the second half. Greg Roder, in his first game back from injury, scored two of his three goals in the second half.

“It just felt good coming back,” Roder said. “We had a slow first half, but at halftime we had a reality check and it opened up on the offensive end.

“We got a lot of goals in transition; that's how we like to play. We want to make sure that when we bring it over that's when we want to attack. We don't want to play six-on-six offense. We want to go when there's less guys to slide; we like to dodge and shoot. That's what we ended up doing in the second half and I think that's what led to our success today.”

The Warriors attacked in bursts. L-S had four pairs of goals scored less than a minute apart.

The turning point in the game came late in the third quarter when Holden put on a successful ride deep in the Colonials’ end that forced a bad pass that turned into an own goal. The goal put L-S up, 7-5, and took the wind out of A-B's sails.

“An own goal there is tough to swallow,” A-B head coach Pat Ammendolia said. “It happens and you can't dwell on those types of mistakes. I think we tried to, but it just didn't quite work. I thought our effort was there throughout the game. They just outplayed us in the second half.

A-B forced the action early and brought physicality to the game. Hunter Arnold stepped up for the Colonials with a hat trick. Arnold's first two goals put the Colonials ahead going into halftime.

“Hunter's a great player,” Ammendolia said. “[He’s a] three-sport captain, and he's been with us for three years and he's gotten progressively better as an athlete every year we've had him.”

Long possessions and key ground ball wins kept L-S on the attack for long stretches. Faceoffs and ground balls were even, and each team was able to put shots on cage regularly. However it came down to sliding on the defensive end, the Warriors held A-B scoreless for a 13:57 stretch of the second half, and solid goaltending.

When the Colonials responded Jack McCready was there. McCready continued his stretch of solid play with an 11-save performance.

“Jack made a few good saves today,” Vona said. “He's been steady for us; he's been that way all year for us. I thought he played great.”

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