BILLERICA, Mass. – Coming off a momentous win over Garden City (N.Y.) – which had been nationally-ranked by USA Today earlier this spring – this weekend, there was always the potential for No. 3 Duxbury to let Thursday’s matchup with No. 13 Billerica become a bit of a trap game.
And, through about three quarters of the matchup, the Indians showed they weren’t about to lay down for the Dragons. Billerica had tied the score, 6-6, late in the third and outplayed Duxbury for the majority of the period, gaining momentum.
But just as the Indians threatened to pull away, Duxbury closed its ranks and scored twice in the final 1:31 of the third to pull away in a 10-8 win at Alumni Field.
“They’re a tough team,” Dragons head coach Chris Sweet said. “They won a ton of faceoffs today, and they got us on all the ground balls, and they’ve got some guys who can shoot, so we had to be on the top of our game to even stay in that game.”
Matt Sharpe tallied a hat trick for Duxbury (7-1) while Harrison Piper added a pair of goals.
The duo was responsible for pushing the Dragons back out in front after Billerica (5-1) had tied the score with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter. Sharpe tallied his third of the game, rolling off a pick to reestablish Duxbury’s lead with 1:31 on the clock. Then, after controlling the ensuing faceoff, the Dragons added another as Piper (2 G, 2A) got off a sidesaddle shot from 15 yards out.
“Sometimes you’ve just to hang on and not let things get out of hand,” Sweet said of the Indians’ swell in the third. “You’re waiting until you can get a good possession and settle down and get one of those goals back. We did, we had momentum at the end of the half and they came out like gang busters.”
Although the Indians were unable to even the score in the fourth quarter, they didn’t go quietly.
Billerica scored twice within the final minute of the game, again causing some tense moments on the Duxbury sideline. Kevin Casey scored his second goal of the game just inside the minute mark before Danny Lynch tallied his third of the game with 40 seconds remaining.
A focus of attention: Jeff Trainor added three assists to spur the Billerica attack, but Sweet and the Dragons will take the tradeoff as they were able to hold the midfielder to a zero in the goal column.
“There were no secrets on that one,” Sweet said with a chuckle of his defenders’ attention paid to Trainor.
That duty largely fell to senior defenseman Shawn Errasti, who along with Chris Armstrong, Hunter Marston and Liam Stauss were responsible for contending with Billerica’s brother attack duo of Derek and Drew Laundry.
“They’ve got a lot of games under their belt and they’re tough,” Sweet said of his defensive corps. “They communicate. Brady Burke’s doing a great job in the goal of communicating the defense and they listen. They’re three just really tough defenders.”
Moving on: While the Dragons found themselves in a dogfight, Sweet wasn’t worried about any lingering malaise or overconfidence following the Garden City win.
“It gave us a lot of confidence,” Sweet said, “but as Hunter Marston said it best, ‘We haven’t won anything yet.’”
With that in mind, Duxbury wasn’t about to look past the challenge at hand. For the majority of the game, Billerica won the ground ball battle, which was noted by the Dragons’ coach postgame.
“We’re going to have games like this, we don’t have to go out-of-state to find tough games, there’s plenty of them right here,” Sweet said. “We just have to be ready for them.”