MEDFIELD, Mass. - Concord-Carlisle came into the Division 2 Central-East final riding the momentum of a 10-game win streak, but that was quickly turned on its head by a dominant performance from top seed Medfield, which rolled to a 12-4 victory before a home crowd on Friday night.
“We didn’t not play well -- that team is just better than us and they forced us into the mistakes we made,” said Concord-Carlisle coach Tom Dalicandro. “We just couldn’t match the speed, the intensity, we couldn’t win a face-off, and they’re just better than us right now.
He added, “This game isn’t going to define our season. I’m proud of my guys -- it was a great run, but we ran into the wrong team in the tournament.”
Senior midfielder Matt Crowell and sophomore middie John MacLean each scored hat tricks for the Warriors (21-2), senior Brian Bissell won 18 of 20 faceoffs, and senior long-stick midfielder Blake Frasca controlled the Patriots top scorer Will Blumenberg.
It was, according to Medfield coach John Isaf, one of the Warriors most complete games of the season.
“I think these guys came out really focused today,” he said. “They really wanted it; they were fired up. I think from the opening whistle, our guys just really wanted it.”
The game plan was clear for the Warriors -- possess the ball and put pressure on the Patriots (14-7) right from the start. MacLean opened the scoring inside the opening two minutes with a low angle shot to the corner. Tyler Hagan smacked the bar and Matt Treiber returned from injury to double the lead with 1:25 left in the quarter.
“Having Matt back was huge; he was a huge part of our lineup early in the season,” said MacLean. “We loved to see him get back and get that first goal.”
He added, “I think on offense we really slowed it down and possessed it well and when we got the possessions we needed then we executed on it…I guess we just had the mindset that if we had an open dodge take it to the net.”
Medfield broke the game wide open in the second with five goals. MacLean scored the first and fifth goal of the quarter to get his hat trick. In between, Nigel Reiff scored after collecting a rebound behind the net and finishing, Bissell got his lone goal directly after winning a face-off, and Crowell got his first of the game after a one-handed snag of a loose pass.
“That was probably our fewest turnovers of the season and we made it a point to emphasize let’s not beat ourselves,” said Isaf. “If we can win the turnover battle, then we’ve got a real good chance of winning. When we value the ball and realize that we don’t have to take the shot on the very first dodge we’re very hard to defend.”
Austin Hoey got the only Patriots goal of the half as the Warriors were in control 7-1 at the break. The deficit grew in the second half, as Jack Isaf, Matt Cahill, a pair of goals from Crowell, and one from Hagan pushed Medfield’s advantage to as high as 10 at 12-2.
A rare transition led to a goal for Concord-Carlisle’s Tommy Standish, which made the score 10-2 at the time. Standish and Hoey would each get their second goals, but not until the final eight minutes of the game.
Aggressive Warriors defense dominates: One of the reasons for Medfield’s domination on Friday night was the ability of its poles to control the Patriots top attackers, in particular the battle between Frasca and Blumenberg, who scored eight goals in Concord-Carlisle’s playoff win over Sharon last week.
“The less he scores, the less they can start clicking, so we just wanted to keep him on edge,” said Frasca. “Obviously, we did that pretty well.”
Isaf noted, “Blake’s covered the best middie one every team. He’s covered D1 guys…he’s just a great athlete, who stays on balance. You never see him overrun a dodge; he never falls for the rollback. When you can take a guy like Blumenberg and put our LSM on him and contain him…we feel like we can cover guys.”
It was a match-up that the coaches had been emphasizing for days leading up to the final and Frasca acknowledged that he was fired up for the challenge.
He said, “I see him scoring eight goals in the first round and obviously you know that you’re going to have a tough match-up, but I live for that you know. That’s what you play lacrosse for.”
Behind Frasca, the combination of defensive players such as William Murphy, Mike MacLean, and Jimmy Ganem, managed to slow down the Patriots offense by being aggressive.
Mike MacLean said, “We see kids who we can lock off; we can just try to strip them, pressure them, and try to make turnovers.”
Frasca added, “It’s important to get out there and play on their hands and with a chip on your shoulder, but only to a point. If you get out there and lunge a little bit then they’re just going to backdoor you or go right past you.”
Making sure history doesn’t repeat itself: Concord-Carlisle came into Friday night’s game not only with a winning streak on its side, but also a little bit of history. In 2009, the Patriots visited Medfield in a sectional final and upset what is widely regarded as one of the all-time best Warriors squads.
Medfield’s coaches used that history to ensure that the current squad did not take the Patriots lightly and, judging by the play of the Warriors, it was a history lesson that they took to heart.
John MacLean said, “Coach kind of got us motivated by getting us together and telling us how they beat us in ’09 here and we kind of wanted to get them back. So, we kind of had that fresh in our mind.”
Isaf explained, “I don’t know what Tom is going to throw at us. From five years ago, he’s done it before, so I don’t know what he’s got up his sleeves.”
He continued, “Based on past performance, we were hoping that [Bissell] could get us a lot of possessions and we noticed that they’re not very deep on defense and we said that if we can run these guys…that’s what we wanted to do.”
“We try to take away the top options and do what we can and then see who is the better team.”
Medfield advances to the state semifinal to take on the winner of Westfield and Shrewsbury, which will play the Central-West final on Saturday evening.