Boston High School: Keegan Gillis

WORCESTER, Mass. -- It was more a matter of when than if.

With a sizeable 6-1 lead in the third quarter of Tuesday’s Division 2 Central semi-final matchup with rival Algonquin at Foley Stadium, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) was cruising along. Something felt amiss from a game between teams which have produced countless classics – both regular-season and postseason – in recent memory. It was almost too easy. It didn’t feel right.

Inevitably, the Tomahawks made their run, drawing within goal late in the fourth quarter. But the Pioneers wouldn’t be denied, closing out an 8-6 win over Algonquin. After the Tomahawks ended St. John’s season in each of the last two tournaments, the Pioneers finally had their day.

“We knew it’d be a battle,” St. John’s junior attack Andrew Smiley said. “It was the last time we played them … It feels great to finally beat them in the playoffs after they got us in the last two years.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Pioneers (18-3) opened it up in the second quarter. They took a 4-1 lead into halftime and amassed a five-goal lead by 6:32 of the third, with Smiley completing a hat trick on back-to-back strikes.

Algonquin (16-7) then went on a 4-0 run, capped by Jacob Scearbo’s third of the game, to cut the deficit to one midway through the fourth.

“I knew we’d come back and push hard,” Tomahawks head coach Rich Luongo said. “This team doesn’t know how to not play hard, especially when we’re down against St. John’s.”

He continued, “It’s an ebb-and-flow game, just like basketball. Even at 6-1, I knew we’d have a run in us.”

After trading goals later in the quarter, including Scearbo’s game-high fourth, St. John’s slammed the door on Hunter Burdick’s second of the game with 1:26 remaining.

“We kind of got rattled and got out of our game plan a little bit, especially that last one that Scearbo scored,” Pioneers head coach Terry Leary said. “We said, ‘Look, stay on their shoulders, ride them top side if they’re coming from X, drive them down the alleys.’”

Throughout Algonquin’s attempted comeback, Scearbo was brilliant. Along with senior attack Keegan Gillis (2 G, 1 A), the senior midfielder practically put the team on his back, scoring all four of his goals in the second half.

Scearbo had embraced a great role within the Tomahawks’ offense ever since senior captain Davis Kraft was lost to injury during the second half of the regular season.

“We’ve worked hard with him on his drive,” Luongo said. “He’s got a very good shot when he comes over the top and, in the second half, that’s what he did. He started shooting over the top.”

After putting in the hard work and embracing his opportunity, Scearbo shined on the greatest stage.

“He’s a quality kid,” Luongo added. “He’s a kid that we say has the ‘Lax Flow.’ It’s swagger, and that’s what Scearbo has.”

After a defensive stalemate in the first quarter, the Pioneers were off and running in the second.

Smiley credited the work of St. John’s faceoff extraordinaire Connor Maloney for setting the four-goal period in motion with his draws.

“We started really pushing it in transition,” Smiley said. “Our faceoff guy, Connor Maloney, he was winning them forward. We knew we could have them in transition, so we were trying to get the most out of those opportunities as possible.”

While Algonquin bridged the face-off gap in the second half, the Pioneers were able to win the ground ball battle in the fourth quarter to close out a victory that once looked a certainty.

“We told them that we expected it to be a one-goal game,” Leary said. “That’s what we play.”

The Pioneers advance to play Grafton in the Division 2 Central final Saturday (3 p.m.) at Foley.

D2 boys' lax: C-C claims 4th state title

June, 16, 2012

WORCESTER, Mass. -- The Concord-Carlisle boys' lacrosse team wrote a new page in their long and storied history book on Friday night as they defeated Algonquin 13-3 to win the school’s fourth state championship and first since 1998.

The undefeated Patriots saved one of their strongest efforts for last as they struck early and often and played some of their best team defense of the season in the Division 2 state championship game.

“We have never had a season where we have played up to or beyond our potential every single game,” Concord-Carlisle head coach Tom Dalicandro said. “It is amazing.”

Concord Carlisle (22-0) got all the offense they would need in the first quarter as senior midfielder Jackson Finigan set the tone early by netting the games first two goals on strong individual efforts. Finigan and freshman midfielder Will Blumenberg would each net hat tricks in the opening quarter to give C-C a 6-0 lead after one.

Finigan would add his fourth goal of the game with 4:36 remaining in the second quarter to give C-C a 7-0 lead heading into the half.

Concord-Carlisle All-American goalie Doug Gouchoe made five of his nine saves in the first half and the C-C defense held the talented and high-scoring Algonquin attack of Conor Healey, Mike Wood and Keegan Gillis scoreless in the half.

Algonquin (22-2) got on the board with 6:46 remaining in the third quarter as Wood scored the first of his two goals on the night. Blumenberg would answer for C-C with his fourth of the game a minute later.

C-C closed out the quarter with three more tallies to Algonquin’s one score to take a 12-2 lead into the final quarter of play.

Wood and Finigan would exchange goals in the final quarter as C-C controlled possession to seal the win.

Finigan finished the game with six goals and Blumenberg added five goals and two assists to lead the C-C offensive attack.

“It was a team effort,” Finigan said. “Everything that I did would not have happened without the guys on the field out there.”

Senior Leadership: “The seniors on the team this year are the hardest workers we have,” Dalicandro said.

Finigan, Gouchoe, All-American long pole Henry Bumpus and midfielder Mike O’Brien (1 Goal) were the C-C captains this year.

Finigan will do a postgraduate year at Deerfield before heading to the University of Delaware to play lacrosse in 2013.

Gouchoe will head to the Air Force Academy where he will continue playing lacrosse.

“Doug has been unbelievable,” Dalicandro said with a smile on his face. “We are going to miss him next season along with all of the seniors.”

Bumpus, who missed the Shriners All-Star football game at Gillette Stadium on Friday to play in the state championship, will play football at Brown University next fall with his brother John and C-C football teammate Andrew VanderWilden.

O’Brien, an All-American soccer player, will head to the University of Pennsylvania next fall as a member of prestigious the Wharton School.

Refuse to Lose: Concord-Carlisle senior lacrosse players Bumpus, Finigan, Tyler Koning and Anthony West were also members of the Concord-Carlisle football team that went 13-0 and won the Division 3 Super Bowl under head coach Mike Robichaud.

“Going undefeated in two sports and winning two state championships are some really great memories that we will leave behind,” Finigan said.

The Futures: Blumenberg, who also starts at defensive back on the football team and guard on the basketball team, is a unique talent at Concord-Carlisle. The freshman was a top scorer this season while playing attack and midfield for the Patriots.

With top long pole Evan Boynton returning for his senior year along with Sam Barrett, Javier Flores and Blaine Taylor, the C-C defense should again be one of the top in the state.

Algonquin also returns many key components next year at attack with Gillis and Wood, in addition to midfielder Davis Kraft and goalie Giles Ober.

Recap: No. 15 Algonquin 13, No. 18 St. John's 6

May, 20, 2012
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- Algonquin lead 3-0 after one quarter and never looked back as they defeated St. John’s Shrewsbury (13-4) 13-6 on Saturday in a battle of Central Massachusetts powers.

The win gave the Tomahawks (15-1) their second victory over the Pioneers this season as they defeated their counterparts 12-8 in an early season match-up on April 7.

Ball possession was an important factor on Saturday as Algonquin senior FOGO Carter Guzzi helped the Tomahawks gain opportunities that led to four successful second quarter strikes and a 7-2 halftime lead.

Algonquin was consistent in each facet of the game as they played discipline team defense and took advantage of ample opportunities in their offensive zone.

“Lacrosse is a game of runs,” said Algonquin head coach Rich Luongo. “I just think we played so solid defensively we did not allow them to make any of those runs.”

The Tomahawks used strong rotating defense and patient offensive possessions to extend their lead in the second half and pull away with the 13-6 win.

“We were trying to slow them down in the second half,” Luongo said. “You want to play a paced game every once in a while, especially on defense.”

Algonquin Senior Conor Healey was the difference maker in the second half offensively as the athletic attackman used his speed to beat his defender and set up two of the three third quarter goals.

“We just came out and wanted to make a statement,” Healey said. “We all have trust in each other and that is important.”

Attack Unit: The Algonquin attack unit of Healy, Mike Wood and Keegan Gillis factored in on nine of the 13 Tomahawk goals.

“Our attack is one of the best I have ever coached,” Luongo said. “They will pick a team apart if they stretch out on us and that is what happened.”

Healy scored three goals on the day to go along with two helpers. Wood added four goals and one assist and Gillis also added a hat-trick.

“When you have three attackman that move the ball around like they do, if you want to stretch them, they will pick you apart,” said Luongo.

The Wall in Net: Algonquin goalie Giles Ober continued his strong play in net as the junior made seven of his 11 saves in the second half to preserve the victory.

“He is amazing,” Healey said. “He makes huge saves. The year before those would have been goals. It is good to have him.”

Ober’s solid play in net and quick clearing ability helped Algonquin thrive in transition on the afternoon.

“We rely on Giles to make some big saves for us,” Luongo said. “He made some stupendous ones today.”

The Road Ahead: Algonquin concludes their 2012 regular season campaign next week with games against North Middlesex and Westborough.

“We will not look past the next two game but we will focus on what we need to do in the tournament,” stressed Luongo.

St. John’s concludes their schedule on Monday with a home game against West Springfield.