Boston High School: Matt Cicalis

D1 South: B-R 9, Barnstable 7

May, 29, 2014
May 29
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Third time’s a charm? Maybe so. But beating a team – in any competition – three times in one season is a feat and that’s what Bridgewater-Raynham boys’ lacrosse was trying to do against archrival Barnstable in Thursday’s Division 1 South tournament game.

And, of course, there’s the rivalry angle.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s football, lacrosse, hockey – if we played frisbee, these kids would get up for it,” Trojans head coach Matt Connolly said. “Barnstable versus B-R, it doesn’t matter.”

Despite being shut out in the teams’ regular-season series, Barnstable came ready and claimed a lead as soon as the opening faceoff was taken. The Red Raiders stuck around tied the score early in the fourth quarter, but, ultimately, B-R proved a little too savvy while taking a 9-7 win.

It was a delayed start for the host Trojans (17-2), who fell behind 2-0 in the opening minutes of the first. B-R would awaken before the end of the quarter, however, as Travis Reid closed out the first with back-to-back goals to draw the Trojans even, 3-3.

“Our kids had all the motivation in the world,” Red Raiders head coach Chris Whidden said. “Our kids came out ready to play. We won a couple faceoffs and got a few quick goals, but we knew that wasn’t going to be. It might have just woken them up. We knew we were in for a real competition.”

B-R kept up the pressure in the second, getting a man-up goal from Gavin Perry (3 G) on the dish from Matt Cicalis at 11:11 of the second. The Red Raiders (12-8) got back within a goal at 5:21 on Mike McDonough’s unassisted tally before B-R closed out the half with a two-goal cushion on Perry’s second of the quarter.

The Trojans took a three-goal lead – their biggest of the game with an unassisted goal from Cicalis to start the second half, but McDonough and the Red Raiders weren’t about to go easily.

Even though they had been outscored 24-8 in the teams’ regular-season meetings, the Red Raiders had a key component Thursday which they’d lacked in their last meeting. McDonough, who’d missed a considerable part of the season with mono, showed his all-league form, willing Barnstable back into the game and tying the score, 7-7, with 10:29 remaining in the game. In fact, McDonough had scored three of his game-high five goals within a nine-minute, 37-second span of the second half – all coming with a rather deceptive under-handed delivery.

“It’s great to have somebody who wants the ball in their stick at the end of the game,” Whidden said of McDonough. “It wasn’t just him, there were a ton of guys making plays on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. That’s a loaded team. They just had too many players and made too many plays.”

With the Trojans reeling, it was left to one of their more unlikely offensive threats to step up. Senior defenseman Matt Miller grabbed a ground ball and motored up the field, untested, and got off a clean shot from 15 yards out, putting B-R back in the lead with 9:09 remaining.

Travis Reid then closed scoring with his third of the game at 5:10.

B-R advances to play Wellesley (which beat Marshfield, 17-4, on Thursday) with the date and time yet to be determined.

Run like the wind: While Miller isn’t known for his scoring prowess, his athleticism is much appreciated by his coach.

Connolly said Miller’s speed is such a factor that he personally tried to convince the golfer to go out for football in his senior season. While Miller relented and stayed on the links, Connolly had no qualms with his decision to take off with the ball.

“If he’s gets the ball, everybody get out of the way because he’s just going to fly,” Connolly said. “He’s an amazing athlete. He’s the fastest kid on the team, he’s like an antelope out there.”
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – It was a long-time coming.

In its fifth year of varsity play, Bridgewater-Raynham boys’ lacrosse had yet to claim a postseason victory. After qualifying in each of the last three seasons, the Trojans were looking to snap their three game losing streak in the MIAA tournament. This year, B-R had earned the No. 9 seed with a 15-3 regular-season record and, with it, won the right to host a Division 1 preliminary-round game.

That opportunity came Wednesday when B-R took on No. 24 seed Central Catholic. During the first half, it appeared the Trojans would have to sweat out their first-ever playoff win – if they were that lucky. The Raiders proved to be worthy adversaries, holding four separate one-goal leads in the first half. It remained a one-goal game early in the second half, as well.

But after an early third-quarter goal from Central, the Trojans separated, closing out the game with a string of 10 straight goals in a 16-5 win and, in the process, notching that elusive postseason victory.

“I wish there was some great coaching thing I could tell you that we did,” Trojans head coach Matt Connolly said when asked about halftime adjustments, “but really it was kids connecting on passes and I think our athleticism won out.”

B-R (16-3) leaned on two talented sophomore attacks in Gavin Perry and Travis Reid. Combined, they accounted for 11 of the Trojans’ 16 goals, with Reid leading all scorers with six (in addition to an assist).

A short Central bench made for weary legs – particularly in the defensive half – in the second half and the Trojans took full advantage.

“We wore them down a little,” Connolly said. “We have good athleticism, but we still have to become better lacrosse players, but we have good athletes. We get up and down the field. That wore them down a little bit and that was huge.”

Still, the Raiders (9-9) looked poised to pull an upset in the first half. The teams traded goals throughout the first half and Jack McInnis’ second goal of the game made it a tie game, 4-4, with 6:11 remaining in the half. But the Trojans responded, scoring twice in the final minute of the second quarter on goals by Reid and Matt Cicalis, establishing a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Central was on the board first in the second half, as Tom Cannif scored 19 seconds in, making it a one-goal game once more. From there, B-R was simply dominant.

“They were pressing a little bit and maybe feeling the pressure of having a home seed,” Connolly said, “being the higher seed, expecting too much of themselves and maybe not enough of the other team.”

In the second half, the Raiders rarely crossed midfield, with play almost exclusively carried by the Trojans’ attack. On those rare occasions Central was able to break through B-R’s midfield, a defense led by Matt Miller and Ryan Murphy ensured a quick exit and – on more than a few instances during the second half – stemmed transition.

“We were ball-watching and we weren’t communicating,” Connolly said of his team’s first-half defensive effort. “A couple of goals, they just went straight to the cage and there were no slides there.”

With one postseason now to its credit, B-R will have to be on point again Saturday (4:30 p.m.) when it travels to No. 8 seed Billerica.

“They’re one of the premiere, historical programs here in Massachusetts,” Connolly said. “We’re looking forward to challenging ourselves.”