Boston High School: John Enright

WINCHESTER, Mass. – The boys’ lacrosse teams of Concord-Carlisle and Wellesley have customarily met, as if a rite of spring, in the Division 2 Eastern Mass. tournament each year. Those encounters are always close, evidenced by the Raiders’ 4-3 win in the teams’ first-round playoff matchup last spring.

But, with redistricting taking place this year, Wellesley moved up to Division 1 – meaning there will be no more such postseason classics. That didn’t mean the teams wouldn’t have a chance to renew their rivalry, however, as they met in Thursday’s Coaches Challenge Cup Tournament semifinal.

The Raiders used two early goals from senior midfielder Matt Dziama to build a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as they advanced to Saturday’s championship with an 8-5 win.

“They’re smart, they’re tough, they make it hard on you,” Wellesley head coach Rocky Batty said of the Patriots.

Dziama finished with three goals and an assist to lead all scorers, while fellow midfielder David Jennings also chipped in a pair of goals.

While the Raiders (8-2) never trailed, C-C (4-4) did come back to tie the score at the 7:56 mark of the second quarter on a goal by Will Blumenberg. But Dziama would put the Raiders back in the lead heading into the half, tallying his third goal with 17 remaining.

“John got off to a quick start and we need that because we didn’t do anything after that,” Batty said. “It was kind of walking through mud for a long time.”

Steven Armanetti led the Patriots with a pair of goals, while goaltender Aidan Long made 13 saves.

Wellesley advances to face Dover-Sherborn in Saturday’s championship game (4 p.m. at North Andover H.S.). And, while the Raiders look for another resume-builder, following last weekend’s win over nationally-ranked Cold Spring Harbor of New York, Dziama saw Thursday’s victory as another building block in settling into the offense.

“We’re possessing the ball longer than we had been earlier in the season,” Dziama said. “It’s a great tournament to work on everything. Offensively, we could have done more today, but we possessed the ball and that helped us.”

Semifinal: Dover-Sherborn 15, North Andover 4
After North Andover dealt Lincoln-Sudbury perhaps the biggest upset in state on the early season during its first-round matchup on Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights were hit with a chink in their armor against the Division 3 power.

The Raiders (6-2) turned in a dominant performance, amassing a 7-2 halftime lead with freshman Bailey Laidman ripping off three first-half goals.

“We’re starting to move the ball better,” D-S head coach Brian McLaughlin said. We’re been working at it in practice and trying to get better at it. We started off the season just dodging and trying to shoot and score.

“We’re being more patient, I’d like to see more patience, but we’re getting better at that.”

As a result, the Raiders turned in their highest offensive yield of the season, including four goals from senior attack Grant Gregory as part of a six-point game. It’s an encouraging sign from the all-league player who played his third game back following a broken finger.

“He did a lot of lifting this summer, put on a lot of weight and now he’s trying to catch his wind back because he hasn’t been playing as much,” McLaughlin said. “He’s definitely a threat for us.”

Chris Williams and Will Spangenberg also netted hat tricks for D-S, while John Enright led North Andover (7-4) with two goals.

The Scarlet Knights will play C-C in a consolation game on Saturday (2 p.m.).

Hingham 9, Andover 6
The Coaches Cup presents an early season litmus test to all of its participants and, after dropping its first matchup of the week to Wellesley (9-8), Hingham rebounded with a win that still left head coach John Todd looking for more from his squad.

“They’re quality enough to pressure us and put us in bad situations,” Todd said. “And then we made poor decisions. Some of it was on them, some of it was on us. We did enough to win and we took advantage of some chances, but we’re still making early season mistakes.”

The Harbormen (8-3) struggled on offense at times, but put forward a balanced attack with nine players hitting the score sheet, led by a pair of two-goal games from Caleb Brodie (2 G, 2A) and Matt Giarusso.

In the other half of the field, however, Hingham played the brand of defense Todd has become accustomed to. Goaltender Jack Santilli made 16 saves while All-American long-stick midfielder Jack Ullrich led all players with five ground balls.

“Our defense is extremely strong and our goaltender is phenomenal,” Todd said. “So that kind of works into our strength – not that we’re not worried about teams – but as long as we play the way we’re capable of playing, we should be able to limit other teams.”

Lincoln-Sudbury 17, Winchester 1
In an effort to move past Tuesday’s upset to North Andover (9-8), L-S flexed its offensive muscle, owning play from the onset of its second-round matchup against host Winchester.

The Warriors (7-2) held the Sachems (6-3) scoreless until the 7:19 mark of the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the offense came in bowlfuls for L-S, which had eight different point scorers. Mike O’Connell and Greg Roder (6 points) had four goals apiece, while Eric Holden had three.

Nick Brindisi (2 G) and Harlan Smart each distributed three assists.

Recap: No. 9 N. Andover 58, No. 1 Central Cath. 52

January, 30, 2013
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Down goes number one.

North Andover surprised everyone at Howard Crozier Gymnasium with a comeback for the ages after being down 18 points in the third quarter to stun Central Catholic, 58-52, in a battle of Merrimack Valley Conference Large division heavyweights on Tuesday night.

Isaiah Nelsen led the way with 20 points, while Derek Collins started the downward locomotive that was the Scarlet Knights in the fourth quarter with a halfcourt buzzer-beater to cut the lead in half to nine at the end of the third quarter.

Nelsen was 5-of-6 from the floor in the fourth quarter and banked in a deep 3-pointer to put North Andover up 55-52 with less than a minute remaining on the clock, and the Scarlet Knights scored the final 14 points of the ballgame to get to within a game of the Raiders in the MVC Large.

The Scarlet Knights roll to 11-2, while the Raiders drop to 13-2 on the season. This marks Central's first loss to an in-state opponent since last March, when they fell to Charlestown in the Divsion 1 North semifinals.

“We had two great days of practice beforehand and tonight we just wanted it more than they did,” said Nelsen. “We had a great fan section, coach (Mike McVeigh) did a great job tonight and we came to play. That’s why we got the W.”

Things were bleak for the Scarlet Knights when the Raiders went up 18 after a Doug Gemmell lay-in late in the third quarter. But North Andover rattled off nine straight points to cut the lead to nine and give itself a chance at a comeback.

The Raiders were throwing all kinds of pressure at the Scarlet Knights in the first three-plus quarters in the backcourt with Tyler Nelson, Joel Berroa and Mike Barry disrupting the ball-handler. In the fourth, the Scarlet Knights just found a way around it, instead of fighting a great stretngth of the Raiders.

Nelsen and the rest of his teammates shot 80 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter, while the Raiders struggled with turnovers down the stretch as well as their shots, finishing 3-of-11 from the floor in the deciding quarter.

Collins drove the baseline and muscled in a basket to tie things at 52 with about two minutes remaining in the game. Nelsen was unsuccessful on a straightaway 3-pointer with more than a minute on the clock, but guard John Enright snuck in for the offensive rebound —- a place the Raiders held a 15-6 advantage -— to keep possession.

Brett Daley found Nelsen deep behind the three-point line on the right wing, and Nelsen just had to let it fly with the shot clock winding down, and it was true off the glass (even though there was no way of knowing if he called it or not).

“I try to make that part of my game,” Nelsen said of the outside shooting. “Coach tells me to keep shooting it and I’ve been working on my shot all throughout the summer. I’ve always been a good 3-point shooter. Obviously they weren’t falling in the first half, but I definitely take them again.”

It might not have looked like much in a nine-point game with Central Catholic seemingly in charge, but the Collins heave at the end of the third changed the complexion of this game.

Sometimes all you have to do is see a ball go through the hoop, no matter how much luck was involved, to get a team going. That certainly was the case last night for North Andover.

“That just completely changed the momentum of the game,” said Nelsen. “(Collins) hit that shot and the fourth quarter was ours the whole way.”

“That’s the way it goes sometimes,” added Central Catholic head coach Rick Nault. “Sometimes it bounces for you and sometimes it doesn’t. They were outstanding tonight, so you have to give them all the credit.”

Nault was missing one of his best perimeter defenders on Tuesday night, as Lucas Hammel sat out with a right thigh contusion. Nault said he is hoping to get Hammel back in the fold within a week.

Hammel won’t grab all the attention, but he is a critical part to what the Raiders want to do defensively. He consistently pressures the ball, much like Berroa and company did tonight, and allows Nelson to play off the ball a little more when they are teamed up in the backcourt.