Boston High School: Lincoln-Sudbury

Recap: No. 19 Tewksbury 4, Lincoln-Sudbury 1

January, 15, 2015
Jan 15
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – Having now reached the midway point of the season, can if be safe to say Tewksbury hockey controls its own destiny?

After viewing the results of their play inside New England Sports Center Wednesday night, the answer is a stout yes.

The No. 19 Redmen picked up a pair of valuable points and, in the process, grabbed sole possession of first place in the DCL/MVC Division 2 conference after their impressive 4-1 victory over divisional rival Lincoln-Sudbury.

Tewksbury, which lost to eventual Division 2 state champion Beverly in last year's Division 2 North final, took a commanding 3-0 lead late in the second period and never looked back as it improved to 7-1-0 (4-0-0). The Redmen were solid throughout with their forechecks and backchecks, forcing numerous turnovers as they methodically took the Warriors out of their comfort zone.

Offensively, the Redmen were equally solid, scurrying around their attacking zone, able to generate space and crisp puck movement.

Tewksbury seized control late in the opening period when sophomore winger Ryan Sheehan slipped a shot between the pads of L-S goaltender Derek Ashe from the left point for the first of his two goals.

The Warriors, who prior to this contest were also unbeaten in conference play, began the middle period on fire, putting five shots on Chris Raymond during the first 1:30.

However, the sophomore held his ground and allowed none past him. Raymond was stellar between the pipes all evening long, turning aside 20 of 21 attempts.

"Chris was huge for us tonight," said Sheehan. "I thought he was the player of the game for us. He made multiple stops throughout and played a huge role in this win. As an offense we knew we needed to keep moving around and find space. We have a bunch of good players on this team who can put pucks on sticks and take it right to the net."

Having survived the Warriors' early onslaught, Tewksbury would go on top by a pair just two minutes in. A lead pass to Steve Hamel on a breakaway was poked away. But senior Pat Leonard, doing what he is supposes to do, trailed the play. The puck skidded back to the forward who fired a missile from just inside his own blue line that sailed over Ashe's catching glove and into the net.

That score seemed to take much of the life out of the Warriors (7-3-0, 5-1-0) for the remainder of this game. They were experiencing great difficulty in their attempts to surge up ice with puck, due in large part to the Redmen's tenacity to bounce L-S off of their lanes.

"They just came in an punched us in the mouth," said Warriors head coach Tom Pare. "They kept beating us until we finally succumbed. They're a good team and were a hungrier team than us. We just seemed like we just threw out our gloves out there tonight which is unfortunate.”

With just over three minutes remaining in the period, Sheehan notched his second marker, pushing in a rebound to make it 3-0.

But L-S would answer a minute later on Braden King's tally in front of the crease, sending L-S into the second intermission down by two goals.

The Redmen spent most of the final 15 minutes blanketing their defensive zone, forcing the Warriors to shoot along the perimeter.

Although both teams combined for just seven shots in the frame, Tewksbury (27 shots total) made one of them count. Forward David Dempsey was left all alone in front of the net and put back rebound following a hard shot from Ryan Meade at 8:44 to lock this one up.

"It was nice for us to come out of the gate and get the lead," Redmen head coach Derek Doherty said. "In the second period we were able to open it up a bit. We play four lines so we try to wear teams down. We always play a third guy high and we try to intercept pucks on breakouts. When the kids execute things well we usually have good results.

Doherty added, “In the third period, when you have a two-goal lead like that, we don't let other teams inside our zone easily. We play the body and try to force to teams to make a bad pass. Our kids did a great job of that.

“We still have to play (L-S) again and anything can happen so we don't take anything for granted. I'm sure when we see them again it is going to be a battle."

Hal Gill brings NHL pedigree to L-S staff

December, 22, 2014
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- Hal Gill still yearns for a return to the NHL. Having spent the better part of 16 years in the league, Gill became a free agent after spending a cup of coffee with the Philadelphia Flyers last season.

At 39 years of age, Gill still looks the part of a one-time top defenseman. Continuing to workout regularly, often at his alma mater Providence College, Gill has managed to hold onto his playing shape extremely well.

It would be easy to sit by the phone and wait for that call to arrive from a team in need of a veteran defenseman. But Gill refuses to stand pat. Having moved into the town of Lincoln four years ago, Gill relishes in his desire to stay involved in game some way, somehow.
After conferring with one-time Boston Bruins teammate Andrew Raycroft, who lives one town over in Sudbury, the two approached Lincoln-Sudbury High School athletic director Peter Elenbass asking if there was something they could do to assist the hockey program.

Obviously, such an inquiry was a no-brainer for Elenbass or Warriors head coach Tom Pare, and before this season Gill and Raycroft were added to the L-S coaching staff.

"When I first moved to Lincoln I got to know the community a little bit," said Gill, following a recent practice at New England Sports Center. "After talking with Andrew [Raycroft], we both felt it would be awesome if we could help out the high school team. We met with Peter [Elenbass] and he hooked us up with Tom [Pare] and we just went from there. Coaching is something I enjoy. I enjoy the competition and right now this is the closest I can get to competition."

Raycroft, who was a goaltender with the Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars, helps out a couple of days a week due to his other commitment as assistant coach at UConn.

Gill, on the other hand, is a daily fixture at Warriors practices and games.

"One of the things that obviously attracted me was Hal's instant credibility," Pare said. "He came to me and said whatever you need me to do and how can I help. It was a very first cordial conversation that we had and very humble versus him saying this what I am going to bring to the table.

“It speaks volumes in our community where Andrew lives in Sudbury and Hal lives in Lincoln and they are both willing to help their community and work with the kids. It keeps them involved in the sport they love. Both are hands-on when it comes to teaching. They are young and good enough to get right up there with the players. To have that one-on-one kind of teaching from both of them has been huge for our program."

For Gill, this latest chapter of his career is much like a return to his roots. An exceptional football and hockey player at Nashoba Regional in Bolton, Gill received several college offers in both sports. But the 6-7 defenseman chose hockey and Providence, where he excelled.

In the 1993 NHL Draft, Gill was the 207th overall pick by the Bruins and spent eight productive seasons with the franchise. His journey through the NHL continued with stops in Toronto, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Nashville and Philadelphia. In 2009, he hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the Penguins.

Gill also took home a bronze medal in 2004 playing for Team USA in the World Cup.

Making the transition from professional athlete to coach can be a difficult one. Gill does not dispute the fact he is learning his new trade on the fly.

"I told Tom that if I am too much just tell me to back off," he said. "I'm learning a lot from the other coaches here and the players. When I say I want to help, I'm just trying to fit in. Some guys are visual learners while others need to be told how to do something so I'm just trying to figure out how the guys here learn.

“I think every coach has a hard time starting out because you are wondering to yourself what am I going to do and what can I bring to the table, so this is definitely a learning curve for me.”

While many things have come naturally to him, Gill fully understands that is not how it works at the high school level. Teaching and explanation go hand in hand here and, thus far, he appears to be conforming to that philosophy quite well.

"He has a deep knowledge of the game and knows what it takes to be successful," said senior captain Ryan Dale. "It's those little tips he offers that you may have never heard before or never really thought about that are important. He brings those kinds of attributes to the table. He's not afraid to express it, which is awesome.

“Both he and Coach Raycroft aren't just here to skate around. Both are very involved in helping all of us get better."

In each of the last two seasons, the Warriors reached the Division 2 North semifinals before bowing out against eventual state champions Beverly and Wilmington, respectively. The hope this time around is to advance beyond the semifinal round and make a solid push at a state title.

"Beverly was a very good team last year as was Wilmington the year before," Pare said. "Let's face it, we ran into some very hot teams. For us to improve, we need to get a bit more hungrier in those dirty areas on the ice. We need to be more consistent in our routines throughout the year. We've been doing it so far, but it's still early and we need to see where it translates to. In order for us to make that jump we need to have a more physical presence."

Who better to instill that intangible than Gill?

Having branded his NHL resume with a physical, lock-down style of play, Gill was highly-regarded as a player capable of manhandling some of the very best forwards the game has ever produced. But his teaching of the game will not be restricted to the defensive zone according to Pare.

"When you have played against some of the top forwards in the world like Hal did, you are obviously going to learn things in regards to what was tough for him individually," he said. "It could be a whole basket of things. What does a certain forward bring that is hard to defend, etc.? Hal will be able to translate those things to our kids. He is a coach and not just a defensive coach. I told our forwards that he isn't going to just talk to the defensive players and not them."

Undoubtedly, Gill has obtained a wealth of knowledge over the years from great coaches and teammates, and now he will be able to pass his expertise to the team.

When it comes right down to it, how often are high school players given the luxury to pick a former NHL player's brain? Let alone two?

"Two things that I have always relied on in this game is if you work as hard as you can and have fun doing it." Gill said. "Coaches have to make changes but players need to always work hard and enjoy playing the game. It's not something you can just switch on and off. When you get into that battle whether it be at a practice or a game, there are times for things like flow drills, etc. but you also need to have that mindset to battle."

A husband and a father, Gill says he has learned to manage his time schedule around his wife Anne, daughters Sophie, Isabelle and son Talon, his duties as high school hockey coach and his daily workout routine.

All the while, he patiently awaits that phone call which could come at any time.

"I'm still training and staying in shape and I'll be ready for it if and when it comes," said Gill. "There is a lot of things involved. You need for it to be the right team and you need to have someone take a chance on me.

“Other than that, there isn't much more I can do. That's the hard part because I can't do a skating test for a team to show them that I am still in shape. I really enjoy where I am at right now but I would still love to play. If I am coaching two years down the road I would be happy with that but right now I just want to play again. It's hard when you still feel like you can contribute something and you can't."

It remains to be seen whether or not Gill gets the call.

If not, Gill knows he has a spot on the L-S bench for as long as he wants to as he now builds on a new resume.

L-S on the move in girls' soccer Top 20

September, 18, 2014
Lincoln-Sudbury was on the move in this week's statewide MIAA girls' soccer Top 20 poll.

The top four stayed the same again this week. Wilmington dropped out of the top five after a pair of draws and was replaced by Bishop Feehan. Lincoln-Sudbury, Concord-Carlisle, and Medway join Wachusett as the big movers in the past two weeks with L-S and C-C getting ready to square off next weekend at Kicks for Cancer.

North Attleborough's impressive start to the season sees the Rocketeers jump into the rankings for the first time along with the West sectional's only representative, West Springfield. Hingham is the other team to jump from unranked into the top 20 after the Harbormen beat Whitman-Hanson.

Newburyport held on to the No. 20 spot after losing to Hamilton-Wenham on Wednesday. It was the team's first loss since 2012 after finishing undefeated and winning the state title last fall.

Kicks for Cancer returns Sept. 27

September, 2, 2014
The Kicks for Cancer tournament will return for its eight year on Saturday, Sept. 27, with some of the state’s best high school soccer sides competing while raising money for cancer research.

An enlarged field of 16 teams (12 boys’ and 4 girls’) will participate in this year’s event held at Concord-Carlisle High School’s Doug White Fields. Since its inception, Kicks for Cancer has raised more than $130,000, including more than $33,000 during last year’s event, for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The event began in 2007, after Lois Wells, mother Concord Carlisle assistant coach Steve Wells, succumbed to cancer.

“Kicks for Cancer is a true grass roots event that began when the kids just wanted to do something for Coach Wells,” Concord-Carlisle boys’ soccer head coach Ray Pavlik wrote in a release sent to local media on Monday, “but it’s grown into an important benefit. The soccer is always great, but obviously, it’s about so much more than that.”

The schedule of game action is as follows:

11:30 a.m. - Reading vs. Woburn
11:30 a.m. – Acton-Boxborough girls vs. Bedford girls

2:00 p.m. - Lexington vs. Wakefield
2:00 p.m. - Bedford vs Boston Latin

4:30 p.m. – Lincoln-Sudbury girls vs. Concord-Carlisle girls
4:30 p.m. - Brookline vs. Newton North

7:00 p.m. – Lincoln-Sudbury boys vs. Concord-Carlisle boys
7:00 p.m. – Acton-Boxborough vs. Wayland

Admission to see all games is $5 for children and $10 for adults.

For those who are unable to attend the event, but still wish to make a donation directly to the Dana Farber Institute and the Jimmy Fund on behalf of Kicks for Cancer, please use our donation web page

Announcing our Mr. Lacrosse finalists

June, 12, 2014
With six teams remaining which will vie for three state championships on Saturday, we’re taking a look at our Mr. Lacrosse award today, announcing our five finalists.

The recipient of the fourth annual Mr. Lacrosse award, presented to the top overall player in MIAA lacrosse, will be announced on Thursday, June 19.

Without further ado, the five candidates are, in alphabetical order:

Hunter Arnold, Sr. A, Acton-Boxborough: Arnold was named an Eastern. Mass All-American this year for the Division 1 North champion Colonials. The Keene State-bound attack stands among the leading scorers in the state this season with 65 goals and 40 assists.

Jay Drapeau, Sr. A, Westford Academy - Drapeau is a two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection, two-time Eastern Mass. All-American and also is a finalist for the Mr. Lacrosse award for a second straight year. The Loyola commit was again among the state’s scoring leaders with 86 goals and 56 assists.

Nick Marrocco, Sr. G, Duxbury – In his two years as starter in the Division 1 finalist Dragons’ cage, Marrocco has earned just about every honor there is to be had. An ESPN Boston All-State selection last year, this is the Georgetown commit’s second season as a Mr. Lacrosse finalist

John Sexton, Sr. LSM/D, Lincoln-Sudbury – Already a two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection, this is Sexton’s second straight year as a Mr. Lacrosse finalist. The Notre Dame commit is also a two-time Eastern Mass. All-American.

Robert Trieber, Sr. G, Medfield – The two-time Eastern Mass. All-American has led the Warriors to the Division 2 state title game. A Tufts commit, Treiber was an honorable mention ESPN Boston All-State selection last year.

D1 North final: Acton-Boxborough 8, L-S 7

June, 11, 2014

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.”

D1 North: L-S 18, Westford Academy 11

June, 5, 2014

WESTFORD, Mass. – There might not be any stopping Lincoln-Sudbury’s boys’ lacrosse team now.

Sophomore Eric Holden notched six goals and added four assists to catapult the Warriors past Westford Academy, 18-11, in a MIAA Division 1 North Semifinal on Wednesday afternoon.

“I thought the kids played great,” stated Lincoln-Sudbury coach Brian Vona. “The kids came ready to play today.”

The defense, led by Notre Dame-bound senior John Sexton, has always been considered a strength for the Warriors, but the offense is now clicking at an astronomical level.

“It took us a while to get going, but I think everyone is stepping up at the right time. Everyone is coming together at the right time,” said Holden.

After a Ryan Hesseltine goal evened the score at 6-6 early in the second quarter, Lincoln-Sudbury took control of the game with five consecutive goals to end the first half with an 11-6 advantage.

Holden and senior Greg Roder had two goals each in that stretch while defenseman Eamon Hunter capitalized on a great effort stepping up from the backend after a nice interception to create a turnover.

The ambush continued into the second half as junior attack Nick Brindisi scored three goals to pace the LS offense in the third quarter for the 17-10 lead after 36 minutes. Holden, Roder and Mike O’Connell also scored third-quarter goals for the Warriors.

The teams each added a goal in the final frame that added up to nothing more than garbage time in an anti-climactic ending.

In addition to Holden’s 10 points, Roder’s four goals and Brindisi’s three goals and two assists were also top markers for the Warriors.

Hesseltine led the way offensively for Westford Academy with four goals and three assists while Ryan McNabb and Scott McCord each added two goals for the Grey Ghosts.

Sexton stonewalls WA: It’s not much of a secret how good John Sexton is on the lacrosse field, but he showed once again how much of an impact he could have on a game.

“He’s superman, I think he’s the best player I’ve ever coached,” said Vona.

Vona elected to let him go one-on-one with Jay Drapeau and Sexton didn’t disappoint. He stymied Drapeau, keeping Westford’s senior from finding the back of the net.

“I love going up to play him,” Sexton said of Drapeau. “He’s an aggressive player. He’s going to dodge. You know he’s going to try to take you to the rack. It’s fun every single time because he definitely does a lot of hard work in there and does a lot of things for his team.”

Sexton emphasized his defense came into the game with confidence and tried not to worry too much about the individual matchups.

“We were not so worried about the matchups. We were more worried about playing as a team. We knew if we limited their off-ball looks, we trusted our guys to make plays out there, get stops and get it going our way.”

Playing as a team and having trust in one another comes easy when the group gets along as well as this one, according to Sexton.

“We were confident on defense,” Sexton said. I’ve played with a lot of great defenses here, but this is definitely one of the tightest. I really trust those guys and [goaltender] Jack [McCready] in net.”

“Our defense is playing great. I thought our defense played really well tonight,” said Vona of his backline.

Hunter, Matt Barker and Will Darley also had strong games in addition to Sexton’s dominating performance.

“They have some of the best poles in the state. They are very talented,” commented Tholander. “It’s not as much John as it is the other guys around him. [Barker] and [Darley] are unbelievable defensemen.

Perhaps just as important is Sexton’s leadership qualities that have been key in putting the Warriors one game away from a second straight trip to the state championship game.

“I’ve said this a million times: He’s a better kid than he is a lacrosse player. He just wills us. He plays hard for his teammates everyday,” explained Vona.

McCready warms up: Goaltender Jack McCready got off to a slow start, but his game got hotter as the game went along.

“We let up some weak goals from the outside today which we have to clean up. I think Jack wanted at least two or three of those back, but we knew Jack would settle down. He made some big saves at the end of the game,” Vona said.

“I thought their goalie really kept them in the game. We had some good shots and [McCready] made some good saves,” said Tholander.

Ball movement keys L-S offense: The Warriors have put 49 balls into the back of the net since the start of the tournament. Holden has 20 points in the past two playoff games.

Those are alarming statistics for either of Lincoln-Sudbury’s potential opponents in the North Final next week.

“We shot really well. Most of our goals were assisted which is great,” said Vona.

The reason behind the offensive explosion can easily be traced back to the chemistry the attacks have with one another at the moment. The ball movement has been impressive with sharp passes being made with relative ease.

Holden credits his team’s ability to transition and push the ball up field with good pace as major factors for his team’s increase in offensive production.

“It all starts clearing the ball. We’ve been doing a good job getting the ball down field quickly. When we do that we’re able to push transition and get quick goals,” said Holden.

Lincoln-Sudbury’s powerful offense will get almost a week to prepare for the winner of Saturday’s game between between Andover and Acton-Boxborough.

The North sectional final will be at Harvard next Tuesday.
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall and correspondent Chris Bradley share their thoughts from tonight's MIAA Division 1A "Super Eight" Tournament selection meeting, at MIAA Headquarters:

In a helter skelter season, Acton-Boxborough this week becomes the fourth team to claim the No. 1 spot in our Top 25 poll this season.

The Colonials ascent to the top spot was made possible by wins over Top 10 foes Lincoln-Sudbury and Needham in the last week while other squads continued to get bit by the upset bug.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

(Editor's notes: This poll does not reflect Monday's results. We will issue one final regular-season poll at the end of the week following the completion of the regular season.)

DCL disruption: No. 9 L-S had a tough go of it last week, dropping two of its last three games, including an overtime affair to DCL rival Westford Academy. On the heels of the win, the Grey Ghosts checked in at No. 7 this week, creating a log jam of three DCL teams in the Top 10, including the top-ranked Colonials.

Clippers sailin' in: Starting the season 12-1, Newburyport makes its first Top 25 showing this week, making its mark at No. 17. The Clippers defeated previously ranked Hamilton-Wenham, 11-10, in a key Cape Ann League tilt that wasn't decided until double overtime.

Newburyport wasn't the only squad making its debut this week as Wakefield (14-3) slides into No. 25. It's the Warriors program's first appearance in poll history.

Recap: No. 9 Xaverian 7, No. 8 Lincoln-Sudbury 6

May, 17, 2014

SUDBURY, Mass. – On a beautiful afternoon for lacrosse, it was Xaverian that shined brightest once again.

In a rematch of last year’s state final won by Xaverian, the Hawks claimed another victory over Lincoln-Sudbury in a game dedicated to raising awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“It feels great beating L-S again, a lot of people still doubted us to beat them,” said senior midfielder D.J. Sperzel of his team’s 7-6 triumph. “It feels good to prove them wrong.”

Trailing 6-4 entering the fourth quarter, the Hawks’ senior class stepped up, scoring three times in the first 4:51 of the quarter, capped off by Sperzel’s tally.

“[L-S] thought I was a lefty the whole game, but I’m a righty. I went left and got a good shot off. It went right by his hip,” said Sperzel of his game-winning goal.

Jack Wheeler scored just 35 seconds into the final quarter for his second tally of the game, and Will Mackey evened the score on the man advantage at the 4:03 mark.

“[L-S] was doing a great job taking away our athletes,” said Haws head coach Tim Gardner, whose team also received scoring from Sean Sperzel and Pete Thorbahn. “We just had to do the best we could to find the best matchups and go with it. It was great to finally crack them.”

“We changed up our offense. We went with two men up top. We spread it out from there and tried to pick on the short sticks,” explained Sperzel of his team’s heightened success in the fourth quarter.

Sperzel’s game-winner might not have been possible if it hadn’t been for the earlier heroics of sophomore goaltender Mike Toomey, who came up with several monumental saves on the games.

“He was awesome, he stood on his head all game,” said Sperzel.

Warriors head coach Brian Vona echoed the sentiment, saying, “Hats off to their goalie. He made three or four stellar saves in big moments. He played great. I thought he was the difference in the game.”

Toomey was able to get his body on some of the saves and flash the stick on others, but he and his coach credited his ability to see what was coming as a major reason for his success.

“Today I was just seeing the ball well,” Toomey said. “That’s what you need to make the saves.”

Toomey Time: Toomey’s performance was particularly noteworthy for an underclassman in a game as intense as Saturday’s with all the extra meaning involved. However, it came as little surprise to his teammates and the coaching staff.

“Toomey is a sophomore who we really like,” Gardner said. “He has great enthusiasm and a great head for the game. He’s still learning and getting confidence, but he was ready for this game.”

“I try not to think about [the pressure] and just play my game,” said Toomey. “My defense really stepped up. They did fantastic. I’m just glad to have them in front of me,” he added.

Toomey’s progression as a young player could not be coming at a better time for a Hawks team that is hoping to make another deep run into the postseason.

“He’s progressively been getting better all year, but he’s tearing it up now. It’s perfect timing going into the playoffs,” said Sperzel.

Warriors fighting it: Lincoln-Sudbury played well, but for the second straight game (including Thursday’s overtime loss to Westford Academy), it wasn’t enough for the victory, according to Vona.

“We’re playing well enough to compete, but not well enough to win,” said the coach. “It’s as simple as that. We can compete with anyone. We’re not playing well enough in the big moments.”

Austin Barta and Eric Holden chipped in two goals each for the Warriors while Harlan Smart and Nick Brindisi added a goal each. LS had terrific ball movement throughout the game, but was unable to execute and finish in some key opportunities.

“Teams know our weaknesses," Vona said. "They’re playing it a certain way and playing it well. We just have to be more ready for that."
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.

Recap: Bishop Guertin 9, No. 6 L-S 8

May, 4, 2014
NASHUA, N.H. – It was a battle fitting of two of the top teams in New England and in the end it was Bishop Guertin holding on to defeat Lincoln-Sudbury, 9-8, at Rivier University.

The Cardinals held the ball for the last four minutes to seal the win. Bishop Guertin rode its endless depth to the victory. Six different Cardinals scored, and Guertin coach Chris Cameron was liberal in his substitutions from start to finish.

Nick Prunier, Dom St. Laurent, and Charlie O'Brien each had two goals for Guertin.

“Nick Prunier, who came in off the bench, had two big ones right away,” Cameron said. “We run seven middies, two faceoff guys, three LSMs, we have five long poles who can play. We have a lot of depth down the line, and I think we needed that today.”

Lincoln-Sudbury came out of the gate rolling, jumping to a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter. Eric Holden had two of his three goals in the opening barrage. Greg Roder scored the first of his three during the run as well.

The Warriors were able to consistently move the ball in the opening period and put up more shots in that quarter (10) than in any other quarter. However, a slew of penalties allowed the Cardinals to get back in it.

“We didn't execute little things,” Lincoln-Sudbury coach Brian Vona said. “We didn't deserve to win. They're a very good team; they're best players executed some big moments and played big the whole game.”

The Cardinals flipped the script the last 11 minutes of the second quarter. Guertin utilized its substitution advantage and scored six goals to into halftime up 7-6.

St. Laurent, who scored both of Guertin's second half goals, said that once he and his team worked out the jitters they were able to get down to business.

“I think we came out a little bit timid, a little bit nervous,” St. Laurent said. “But once we pulled ourselves together the sky's the limit when we're playing our brand of lacrosse.”

The Guertin offense was aided by solid defense and even stronger goaltending. Jake Sonberg turned aside eight shots for the Cardinals including a pair in the fourth quarter that preserved the lead.

“It was definitely a new experience,” Sonberg said. “I honestly haven't been shot on by poles that well. The biggest thing for me was watching the ball the whole way and addressing the defense because they really stepped up today.”

Lincoln-Sudbury was able to reel in Guertin's attack in the second half and chip away at the lead. Roder scored a goal midway through the third and again in the fourth quarter to keep the Warriors within a goal.

“When Greg was dodging up top he was patient,” Holden said. “He didn't rush things or take too many bad shots. He waited for the third or fourth dodge; he waited for a good time to go and capitalized on his shots.”

A penalty with 1:41 left doomed Lincoln's attempts at tying the game as the Cardinals were able to salt away the win.

Guertin, who has beaten its five New Hampshire opponents 96-29, relished the challenge of playing another of the Commonwealth's best teams. The Cardinals beat Needham, 10-9, on April 22.

“I live for it,” Sonberg said. “It's no fun playing those 15-2, 18-2 games. I don't get anything out of that. This game experience is what really drives and is what I play for.”
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.”

Duxbury lax regains No. 1 billing in poll

April, 26, 2014
For the first time since the conclusion of last regular season, Duxbury claims the No. 1 spot in our boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll this week.

The Dragons vaulted to the top spot following their win over former No. 1 Xaverian earlier in the week.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

Here's more from this week's update:

Welcome new faces: Three teams made their season debuts in this week's poll, including No. 24 Bridgewater-Raynham which makes the program's first appearance in the poll's four-year history.

Undefeated Shrewsbury (9-0) checks in at No. 18, ahead of its battle of Central Mass. unbeatens against crosstown rival, No. 8 St. John's of Shrewsbury on Sunday. Also, North Andover returns to the poll for the first time since last season, climbing to No. 21 after a momentous upset of No. 6 Lincoln-Sudbury at the Coaches Challenge Cup earlier this week.
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.