Boston High School: Medfield

Recap: No. 21 Medfield 3, No. 20 Westwood 1

January, 22, 2015
Jan 22
CANTON, Mass. – When Medfield and Westwood first met this season, it was during the first week of the season. Then, the 20th-ranked Wolverines shut out the Warriors, 2-0, creating some of the momentum that would lead them on a nine-game unbeaten streak to start the season.

Now, near the midway point of the high school hockey season, Medfield head coach Toby Carlow feels his team has come along from the group that was blanked by Westwood in the teams’ first Tri-Valley League meeting.

There was proof positive in the No. 21 Warriors’ 3-1 win Wednesday night at Metropolis Rink. After the teams took to the ice in the third period tied 1-1, Medfield brought all the things to the table which they hadn’t the first time around while dealing Westwood its first loss of the season.

“That’s the kind of period, game that we need to play to beat a team like that,” Carlow said. “They’re a very good hockey team. Westwood’s well-coached, they work extremely hard.”

Medfield (10-1-0, 6-1-0) took a 1-0 lead to the room at the first intermission, scoring in the final minute with the first of Matt Treiber’s two goals on the game. The power play goal came on an extended 4-minute man-advantage.

The Wolverines (8-1-1, 4-1-1) leveled the score as Nick Conway got off a wrist shot from the left wing circle after an offensive zone faceoff win by Ken Mackin at 11:32 of the second.

“I thought we were working hard, but the mental stuff wasn’t there,” Treiber said of Carlow’s message to the team during the second intermission. “We were making some mistakes on the breakout, including myself, times when we had to get it out and we didn’t. During the third period, our coach just told us we had to do our jobs; we did and that’s what got us the win.”

The Warriors wasted little time getting the go-ahead. Treiber fired off a half-slap from inside the left wing circle at 3:25.

“All the credit goes to my linemates, John MacLean and Jack Scannell,” Treiber said. “They worked hard all game and it finally paid off. I got the goals, but it was definitely a team win. It’s a feeling like no other because I play with the goalie and couple other kids in the fall, so it definitely feels good to beat these guys.”

While Medfield maintained the territorial edge through the period, Westwood had its best opportunity to score an equalizer near the midway point. Working off transition, John Clancy had the puck on his stick blade in the slot after a give-and-go down low. With nothing in front of him but Warriors goaltender Matt Malvese (18 saves), Clancy got off a quick wrist shot which Malvese kicked out with his right pad.

Off the ensuing faceoff, the Warriors turned the pressure back up ice. Freshman Tom Schofield was the beneficiary of a tape-to-tape, crossice pass from Dave Carrigan at 7:54 for the 3-1 lead.

“It’s always tight with these guys, so get that little extra cushion,” Carlow said. “That certainly helped a lot.”

While Medfield and Westwood split the regular-season series – with much still to be decided in the league title race – Carlow took a long range view of the victory.

“That’s a team we could very well see down the road, too,” he said. “They’re going to make the playoffs, they’re going to win games in the playoffs and we could very well see them then.”

D3 Southwest: Walpole 28, Medfield 14

November, 15, 2014
WALPOLE, Mass. - Junior running back Steven Cuqua rushed for a pair of touchdowns, including one with just 2:47 remaining to end Medfield’s Cinderella run through the postseason and lift Walpole (10-0) to a 28-14 victory in Friday night’s Division 3 Southwest final at a bitterly cold Turco Field.

After Medfield (7-3) pulled within six points with 7:49 remaining in the game, Walpole coaches were urging Cuqua to take over on the next drive and put the game away. The junior responded with six carries for 50 yards on the next Walpole possession, including a 10-yard touchdown that extended the lead back to two scores.

“The coaches just needed me to make a big play and I just did the best I could,” he said. “The line did a great job and Lovevindjy Salvant, the fullback, did a great job blocking. They made great holes and I just ran through them.”

When asked what the final, 10-play, 73-yard drive, which killed more than five minutes off the clock, saif about his team, Cuqua (18 carries, 114 yards) responded, “The coaches are pretty proud of us because we really haven’t been able to do that all year and they said that’s championship football.”

Medfield was not completely killed off by that Walpole score and marched right back down the field behind senior quarterback Stephen Ledogar (18-31, 213 yards). He completed six of seven passes to get the Warriors down to the Walpole eight with 1:16 on the clock, but the Rebels secondary held on to force four straight incompletions and clinch the trophy.

“That’s a real quality team,” said Walpole coach Barry Greener. “They can match our skill people, which a lot of teams can’t. The two defensive ends, the running back (Josh Hirschfeld), their linebackers played well and No. 7 (Ledogar) drove us nuts.”

After pulling upsets at No. 3 North Attleboro and No. 2 Stoughton to get to the final, Medfield showed right away that it would not be a pushover for the top seed. Matt Patry ripped a pass out of the hands of Noah Miree on the second play of the game and Hirschfeld would make the turnover count with a 30-yard touchdown that made it 7-0.

Following a Medfield fumble, Cuqua got his first touchdown of the game on a toss to the right from 12 yards bring the Rebels within a point. Then, with 3:15 left in the half, came the turning point of the game, as senior Jack Lavanchy picked off Ledogar and took it 44 yards for a touchdown that gave Walpole the lead at 13-7.

“It was great start and we wish that we could’ve sustained it to the half, but I think that pick-six changed the complexion of the game,” said Medfield coach Erik Ormberg.

Momentum was with Walpole and the Rebels would add to the lead before the break. Quarterback Tyler Berkland (9 of 14, 67 yards) took off on a 15-yard draw play followed by an 18-yard toss to Cuqua to the Medfield 19. From there, Lovevindjy Salvant would break tackles and race into the end zone to give Walpole a 20-7 edge at the break.

Medfield received to start the second half. On third and 11 from the Warriors 25, Ledogar hit Chaz Augistini on a 49-yard completion to the Rebels 26. Three plays later on third and nine, Ledogar had single coverage to the outside but his fade to the back corner was intercepted by sophomore Tim Hayes.

“On the fade ball, it was a clinic interception,” said Greener. “[He] stayed on his hip, looked back when he looked back, and picked it off. I thought that saved the game for us.”

With the score still 20-7, Medfield took over with just 47 seconds left in the third quarter and in desperate need of a spark. The Warriors turned to Ledogar and the senior led a 10-play, 63-yard drive that gave the Warriors a chance at an upset. He finished the possession with a 17-yard pass to Patry.

“It was probably Stephen Ledogar’s best drive,” said Ormberg. “The execution -- him making the decisions to keep the ball and get outside the pocket a little bit and his passes were spot on. That’s the type of resiliency that these guys have shown all year.”

Walpole proved why it is the number one seed with its drive to clinch the victory and Greener was happy to see his team respond to the adversity.

He said, “You’re 9-0 for a reason and you’re going to get tested. I was honestly hoping that we could maybe get a little better spread in this, but we just couldn’t. That’s a really good team.”

Walpole advances to face the Dartmouth, the winner of D3 Southeast, next weekend in Brockton for a spot at Gillette Stadium.


Franklin on the move in girls' soccer poll

October, 16, 2014
Franklin jumps back into the top two of our MIAA girls' soccer Top 20 poll this week after a 3-2 win over then No. 7 Central Catholic. Needham drops one spot to three after a pair of draws, including an imporessive scoreless tie with No. 1 Acton-Boxborough on Saturday. With Bishop Feehan sliding into the No. 4 spot, three of the top four teams in the state are from Division 1 South.

West Springfield moved up four spots this week and is the top team in the West and only team from the West in the top 20, although Belchertown and Minnechaug are both in the Last 10 Out. Minnechaug could jump into the rankings next week if it gets a positive result against West Springfield on Monday.

Central Catholic has had a rough couple of weeks. The No. 14 Raiders lost for the first time in the regular season since 2011 and then followed it up with draws against Haverhill and Chelmsford and the aforementioned loss to Franklin. Central Catholic is young, with a number of freshmen playing key roles, but there is plenty of talent led by senior forward Ali Wiggins, so the Raiders remain a threat in D1 North.

Mansfield and Newburyport dropped into the last 10 out this week and were replaced by Nashoba at No. 18 and Medfield at No. 20. Both are perennial powers in their respective divisions and have shown great improvement over the course of the season. Both also have top 10 opponents coming up with Nashoba traveling to No. 1 A-B this weekend and Medfield facing No. 7 Medway on Thursday.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

(Editor's note: Records are as of Wednesday, Oct. 15.)

Conference Breakdown:
DCL - 3
Patriot - 3
Bay State - 2
Hockomock - 2
Midland - 2
TVL - 2
Coombs - 1
Dual Valley - 1
EAC - 1
Middlesex - 1
MVC - 1
NEC - 1

A-B boys' lax finishes season at No. 1

June, 24, 2014
After capturing the program's first state title, Acton-Boxborough finishes the season in the top spot of our statewide MIAA boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll.

The Colonials finished the regular season at No. 1 and then went on to beat Duxbury, in overtime, to secure their first title.

The full poll can be accessed HERE.

CHAMPIONS REIGN: Medfield, which captured its sixth overall championship, was the highest ranking Division 2 squad, checking in at No. 3 after dispatching rival Hingham in the title game.

Cohasset, which interrupted Dover-Sherborn's run in Division 3, also hopped into the top 10, showing at No. 8.

NEW BLOOD: Five teams that made their Top 25 debuts this season made the cut in the final poll of the year, adding to the notion that parity might have finally come to Massachusetts lacrosse.

Bridgewater-Raynham makes its highest showing at No. 12 after reaching the Division 1 South quarterfinals. Shrewsbury (No. 15) and Westfield (16) both climbed into the poll -- with the Bombers making their debut in the final rankings -- after huge upsets in Division 2, coming over St. John's and last year's state champion Longmeadow, respectively.

Wakefield (24) and Melrose (25) also held it down on the back end after making their debuts in the final weeks of the regular season.

South Hadley's Fitzell takes MVP in All-American game

June, 17, 2014
BOSTON – Two days after the best teams in the state took to Boston University’s Nickerson Field, the best individuals took to the same field in the second annual All-American game.

Behind T.J. Fitzell’s (South Hadley) MVP performance (two goals, assist) and four goals a piece from Hunter Arnold (Acton-Boxborough) and Jay Drapeau (Westford Academy), Team Under Armour shook off the early rust and cruised to a 20-14 win over Team Cascade.

But when the final horn sounded, it wasn’t about the final score or the individual performances, but rather soaking in the environment and partaking in a great cause.

All proceeds generated from admission were donated to the Wounded Warrior project.

“It’s for a great cause, it was a great thing to be a apart of and it was at a great venue like BU,” Fitzell said. “To be able to come out and perform it’s quite exciting.”

“It’s a lot of fun, I met a lot of guys, I only knew three or four guys coming down here so I met a lot of guys from the area that have been playing lacrosse so it was a good time, I had a lot of fun.”

Team Cascade jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter behind a pair of goals from James Burr (Middlesex) to go along with tallies from Danny Seibel (Belmont Hill) and Needham’s Mike Panepinto.

With 31 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Kevin Bletzer (Catholic Memorial) scored the second Team Under Armour goal that was the front end of a 7-0 run, keeping Team Cascade off the scoreboard for nearly 12 minutes.

Bridgewater-Raynham’s Travis Reid scored back-to-back goals to end the drought and Team Cascade went into the half trailing by three.

Team Cascade cut the lead down to one with a 3-0 run on goals from Morgan Cheek (Nobles), Seibel and Panepinto but pulled away throughout the second half, and igniting an all-star game feel.

With time winding down, Drapeau scored the goal of the night going behind the back to beat Tyler Blaisdell (Thayer Academy) over his right shoulder for the score.

Arnold’s monster weekend: Hunter Arnold was one of three members of the Div. 1 Champion Acton-Boxborough Div. 1 championship team that took to the field Monday night, joining LSM Austin Wolf (Team Under Armour) and midfielder J.T. Kelly.

Arnold scored a goal in the Colonials’ 5-4 double overtime win over Duxbury and went off for another four goals Monday night on the same field.

“Overall the weekend was awesome,” Arnold recalled. “First the state championship game, there is nothing better, nothing better than beating Duxbury. Double-overtime and then today it was fun a lot of great guys out here.”

Arnold wasn’t the only one who took to the Nickerson Field again, as did Division 2 champion Medfield’s John MacLean, Brian Bissell, Blake Frasca, Matt Crowell and goalie Robert Treiber and Division 3 champion Cohasset’s LSM Tim Gillis.

Jelling together: It was the first time that many of these players had met, let alone played on the same team together. Before the game the players got a 20-minute warm-up to find their rhythm.

It didn’t take Team Cascade long to find their offensive stroke scoring four of the first five goals.

“We gelled together pretty quick after passing and catching drills we all came together,” B-R’s Reid said.

It took Team Under Armour a little longer to figure it out, but once they did, they were too much to handle.

“Well we were a little sloppy on offense so we slowed it down a little but got better shots and pumped in some goals,” Fitzell said.

Arnold added: “It was pretty easy to get along with these guys out here everyone knows how to play. We all know how to move the ball well, it was just a bit rusty to begin.”

Video: Recapping MIAA boys' lax championships

June, 15, 2014
BOSTON -- Another season of MIAA boys' lacrosse is in the books, with three state championship games played at Boston University's Nickerson Field on Saturday.

ESPN Boston correspondent Kelly Emerson has the highlights from all three while and is joined by editor Scott Barboza, taking a final look back at the season that was in this segment produced by Greg Story:

D2 boys' lax: Medfield 13, Hingham 6

June, 14, 2014

BOSTON – It became clear that in order for Hingham to win the Division 2 state title they would have to do one thing: stop the Treiber brothers.

They couldn't.

Matthew Treiber, a sophomore, scored four goals and assisted on three more while his older brother, All-American goalkeeper Robert, turned aside a dozen shots to pilot the Warriors to a 13-6 win over the Harbormen at Nickerson Field.

Matthew Treiber, who was making his first start since returning from injury, scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second quarter and two in the fourth quarter to ice it.

“Matt came to on Thursday and said 'how can I get my job back', and I said work hard the next two practices and we'll see what happens,” Medfield coach John Isaf said. “He worked his butt off the next two practices. It was time to see what he could do out there and he delivered.”

Treiber had a point in all four quarters.

“I rehabbed as hard as I could to get back,” Matthew Treiber said. “I'm so thankful I got back because it's a dream come true to play with my brother in the state championship [game] let alone win it. That's all I wanted to do.”

In a rematch of last year's classic Eastern Mass. Final the teams picked up where they left off early on. Goal by Medfield's Matt Crowell and Hingham's Matt Giarrusso had the game tied midway through the first at one. After that the Warriors took over scoring the next five goals and never looking back.

John Maclean and Tyler Hagan each scored the first of their three goals during the early run.

“Experience has a lot to do with it; depth has a lot to do with it,” Isaf said. “I think we were the healthiest we've been all season for the playoff run. When you have a team as deep and talented as we are if you're healthy you got a really good chance to make a run.”

Brian Bissell gave Medfield all the control it would need. The senior faceoff man won 18 of the game's 19 faceoffs and played a big role in Medfield winning the ground ball battle 28-11.

Bissell's control at the X, combined with an imposing defensive presence and control of the ground, made for smooth sailing for much of the game for the Warriors.

“Credit to my whole defense,” Robert Treiber said. “[Ben] Ruzzo, [James] Ganem, MacLean, and [Blake] Frasca did a good of letting me see the ball all day, driving guys down the alley. Bissell did a great job getting the faceoffs, getting the pressure off the D. All the credit to them. They make my job look good; they make my job easy.”

Hingham made it close in the third quarter, closing the gap down to four, but a four-goal fourth quarter by Medfield squashed the comeback.

Hingham's Jacob Brodie led the offensive attack for the Harbormen with a pair of goals. Seniors Matt Rosso, Matt Giarrusso, Jackson Ullrich, and Patrick Burke each had goals in their final high school game.

“They got great offense, great weapons,” Robert Treiber said. “We just tried to take it one step of the time. Defense did a great job. Couldn't ask for anything else.”

For Medfield's seniors, who lost to Longmeadow in last year's final, the win capped a journey that started a decade ago.

“We came out with one purpose and played 100 percent; I couldn't be more proud of this group of guys,” Hagan said. “I've been with most of these guys for 10-plus years. It's unreal to go out on top.”



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.

D2 semifinal: Medfield 14, Shrewsbury 1

June, 11, 2014
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Medfield made it look easy Tuesday night, dominating all phases of the game and rolling to a 14-1 victory over Shrewsbury in a Division 2 state semifinal.

The Warriors (22-2) dominated the face-off X, winning 16 of 18 face-offs thanks to the play of All-American Brian Brissell, and buried the Colonials (20-5) with a series of cuts and pinpoint passes that allowed senior Tyler Hagan to score four goals and classmate Jack Isaf to add a hat trick.

"When you move the defense on every dodge, it makes it hard for them to think about who’s got slide help, and when they go for that slide somebody behind them cuts and gets open," Medfield coach John Isaf said. “It really depends on what we see from the sideline and how aggressive they’re being on defense. How hard they’re sliding and things like that. Then we’ll go with whatever works.”

Medfield asserted itself right from the start, scoring four goals in the game's opening six minutes, including two by Isaf before two minutes had rolled off the clock. The Warriors would then take a 6-0 lead into the second quarter. Senior Matthew Treiber scored a pair early in the second, and Hagan went on an individual three-goal run to push the score to 11-0 at intermission.

"It was just off-ball cuts for me," Hagan said of his productive night. "They seemed to kind of take their mind off the off-ball cuts and seemed to fall asleep a little bit, so a couple of those goals I just kind of snuck by."

Senior captain Matthew Crowell scored his second goal less than a minute into the third quarter, but Shrewsbury's All-American goalie Chris Gorman made four saves the rest of the period to momentarily stop the bleeding. But Isaf completed his hat trick less than two minutes into the fourth, pushing the game into "running clock" mode, and Thomas Sears scored his second of the game just two minutes later.

By the time Derick Tinsley got Shrewsbury on the board with five minutes to play in the fourth, Medfield had already scored 14 times.

After the game, Shrewsbury coach Nate Skermont was pleased with his team's effort, but said the Colonials simply ran into one of the state's elite teams.

"When they (Medfield) have the ball, there are three or four things that they can do to beat you that teams in Central Mass can't do," Skermont said. "I was pleased with our effort. We knew what we wanted to do, and we did it, but we just ran into a team that was that much better (Tuesday)."

For the Colonials, it was a bitter end to what had been a season of firsts. Shrewsbury captured its first district championship in program history Saturday with a win over Westfield, and scored one of the biggest wins in program history the previous Tuesday against rival St. John's in the district semifinas.

"I would not trade this team for any team anywhere," Skermont said of this year's Colonials. "That will never change. We will always be champions. Nobody can ever take that away from us. We're district champs, something nobody in our school has ever done, and we'll always be the first to do that, and I'll always cherish that and always have these kids' backs.”

Medfield will now move on to the Division 2 state championship game at Boston University's Nickerson Field. The Warriors will face Hingham in a rematch of last season's Division 2 Eastern Mass final. Game time has yet to be set.

D2 Central/East: Medfield 12, Concord-Carlisle 4

June, 6, 2014
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.
MEDFIELD, Mass. – For Jack Isaf and the 19 other seniors on the Medfield lacrosse team, there was but one acceptable outcome.

“You play with these guys for eight years and I think this is the largest senior class we’ve ever had,” Isaf said after Tuesday night’s Senior Night game against Tri-Valley League archrival Dover-Sherborn. “It’s a really close bond and it was a really special night.

“We couldn’t go out with a loss.”

Down a goal to the Raiders inside the final minute of the fourth quarter, Isaf took it upon himself to make certain that would not happen in regular. Cutting around the cage and taking a feed from Nigel Reiff, Isaf tied the game, 6-6, with 12.9 seconds on the board.

Then, as the teams moved on to overtime, Isaf – who predictably is nicknamed “Ice” – completed a storybook ending to the Warriors seniors’ final regular season home game, scoring the game-winner and, in the process, securing Medfield’s first outright TVL championship since 2010.

Isaf’s dramatics were only underscored by that fact this his proud papa was on the sidelines – Warriors head coach John Isaf.

The coach, who needed a few deep breaths to collect his emotions during postgame interviews, said that his son’s late-game exploits only sweetened the experience. Yet, for a coach who began with this senior group as an instructor on their fourth grade town team, Tuesday night was about the extended family.

“It wouldn’t have mattered who scored the goal,” John Isaf said. “D-S is a great team and to win in that fashion, it didn’t matter. A win like that is always great against a great team.

“These are guys that really like each other and enjoy playing for each other. They’ve been playing together a long time, so I think they trust one another – and that’s what it comes down to.”

Medfield (17-2, 12-0) struggled offensively early on through some sloppy possessions fell behind the Raiders, 5-2, at the half.

D-S (13-3, 10-2) pushed its lead to four goals almost three minutes into the second half on a Tyler Mann goal, but the Raiders would be shut out during the final 21:02 of the game, in part due to Warriors goaltender Robert Treiber who made five saves in the third quarter alone.

The Warriors then embarked on a streak of five straight goals to close out and win the game. Back-to-back goals from sophomore midfielder John MacLean, sandwiched around the third and fourth quarters, got Medfield back within a goal with less than four minutes to play.

Medfield had more possessions to notch the equalizer, but the Raiders defense remained strong behind Rogers Boylan and Chase Hyde in front of goaltender John Fontaine.

That is, until the Ice-man applied his touch.

Recap: No. 5 Longmeadow 11, No. 2 St. John's (S) 6

May, 10, 2014
LONGMEADOW, Mass. — Six days ago, Longmeadow lost its first game in 38 tires when Medfield avenged last season’s loss in the Division 2 state championship game with 10-9 win on Saturday night.

The Lancers have since started a new, modest three-game win streak, the most recent of which was an 11-6 win over St. John’s of Shrewsbury on Friday night at home, handing the Pioneers their first loss of the season.

“Yesterday (versus Westfield) we came out really slow,” Longmeadow senior midfielder Drew Kelleher said. “Coach talked to us and told us we needed to have a four-quarter effort for tonight.

“This is a huge momentum swing. St. John’s was undefeated, came in here today playing some great lacrosse, so for us, this is a big win.”

Kelleher wasted no time getting points on the board, scoring the his first of five goals 27 seconds in. That was followed by his younger brother, Cam, posting another goal, giving Longmeadow a 2-0 lead only 90 seconds in.

The early offense provided some comfort for goalie Matt Draymore, who put forth a 13-save effort for the Lancers.

“When we played Medfield, I think he had two saves,” Longmeadow coach Ryan Liebel said. “He was really down on himself, and we tried to stay positive and keep him going. He turned it around real quick. It woke everybody else up.”

St. John’s attempted to cut into the lead in the third quarter, scoring three unanswered goals from Jared Ward, Drew Smiley and Andrew Cox. The trio of goals, made it a 7-5 game. Longmeadow would counter with a goal from Drew Kelleher, who knocked in a shot midair after a scrum of white and red jerseys attempted to scoop a ground ball outside the crease.

Ward’s second goal made it 8-6, the last time the game would be that tight. Max Stukalin ripped in a netter with less than a minute to play in the frame, and the Lancers added two more in the fourth quarter.

“The defense is aggressive and pushed out on us,” St. John’s coach Terry Leary said. “I thought Draymore had a great game. We had as many easy opportunities and he was the difference maker.”

The face-off battle between Kelleher and Connor Maloney was tight throughout the game, but Longmeadow was able to control the game, scooping ground balls, resulting in transition for the Lancers.

While Kelleher had five goals, Will Lukas set up a handful of his own for Longmeadow.

Smiley recorded a hat trick for the Pioneers.

Recap: No. 3 Medfield 10, No. 2 Longmeadow 9

May, 4, 2014

MEDFIELD, Mass. - When Jack Isaf collected a pass, ducked past an onrushing Longmeadow defender and bounced his shot past Matt Draymore, it gave Medfield its first lead of the game. As it turned out, it was the only one that the Warriors would need.

In Saturday night’s rematch of last season’s Division 2 state championship game, Isaf’s third goal of the game with little more than two minutes remaining provided Medfield with a 10-9 victory over visiting Longmeadow. It was also a little revenge for the Warriors for the 2013 final.

“You know that you’re going to get punched and you have to punch back; you know that the team is going to go on a run and you need to make a run back,” said Medfield coach John Isaf about his team’s resiliency. “We just don’t quit and that’s what we’re finding out about ourselves -- we’re tough and we can punch back.”

Longmeadow head coach Ryan Liebel, who saw the Lancers 37-game winning streak come to an end and suffered just his first loss as coach, called the loss a “good learning experience” for his squad. He also recognized that there was a little edge to Medfield with thoughts of last year’s final still fresh in the memory.

He said, “They might have had a little bit more of a taste in their mouth from last year and they may have gotten the best of us. They wanted it. They were prepared and, as soon as we got here, we could see that in their eyes.”

Liebel added, “We had chances but we didn’t put them away and overall they played better; they played tougher.”

It was the Lancers that jumped out to a 6-4 halftime lead. Senior attacker Myles Smith scored two goals and sophomore Max Stukalin added two of his game-high four goals in the opening two quarters.

Jack Isaf scored twice for the Warriors in the opening half but it would be several second half adjustments that would pay huge dividends for Medfield to create better attacking opportunities and outscore the Lancers 6-3 after the break.

“We did a little bit of an adjustment on the defensive midfield side to play further out on them and offensively we went to a different set,” John Isaf said. “It forced their slides to be a little bit longer and just got much better looks in the second half.”

He added, “We made an adjustment on defense, we made an adjustment on offense, and then we basically said that what it comes down to is they won the 50-50 balls in the first half and we need to win them in the second half.”

Matt Crowell got Medfield back within a goal inside the opening 30 seconds of the second half. Longmeadow answered back with a goal by Cam Kelleher, but sophomore Nigel Reiff matched it for the Warriors.

With 2:46 left in the third quarter, Stukalin got his hat trick and made it 8-6, but Medfield once again answered back with Kevin McCordic firing a shot under the bar and then Tyler Hagan scoring from in close with just 1.9 on the clock to tie the game heading to the final quarter.

Stukalin would once again give the Lancers the lead just 45 seconds into the fourth but little more than a minute later, Crowell picked the top corner to tie it at 9-9. The score would remain deadlocked until 2:04 left when Isaf stepped up with his game-winner.

“That’s one of our backside looks is we try to dodge on one side and get the ball on the back side,” said Coach Isaf of the play that led to his son’s goal. “He did a good job getting upfield and increasing his angle and putting the ball where the goalie couldn’t save it.”

Longmeadow had its chances to try and break the game open, but Liebel highlighted face-offs as a factor in Medfield’s ability to hang around. In a battle of two of the best face-off middies in the state, Brian Bissell out-dueled Drew Kelleher, 13-10.

“The face-off ‘X’ was huge. They controlled the ball; they controlled the tempo,” said Liebel, who also noted the play of Medfield goalie Robert Treiber, who made 15 saves in the win.

When asked what it meant to come back and take the lead right at the end, Trieber responded, “It’s just what my coach has been preaching all year. He said we’ve got to step up; next guy in and if something’s not going right just flush it and we’ll get back into it. We did a great job of not worrying about coming back and just playing our game like it’s 0-0.”

John Isaf added, “All tonight did was show that we can play and we’re not the team that you saw a week ago (in a loss to Catholic Memorial). But, like I said at the end -- we didn’t win anything and we still need to get better.”

“We can’t be satisfied with tonight, we need to get better for the last two weeks of the season.”

Recap: No. 4 Xaverian 15, La Salle (R.I.) 12

April, 26, 2014
PROVIDENCE, R.I . – Granted, defending MIAA Division 1 boys’ lacrosse champion Xaverian Brothers and two-time defending Rhode Island Division 1 champion La Salle Academy play in different leagues as well as in different states.

But what if the Hawks and the Rams either played in the same conference or played each other more than once per season?

“Obviously, ‘O.D.’ (La Salle coach Steve O’Donnell) has them fired up, they run good patterns and they know what they want to do,” Xaverian coach Tim Gardner said on a frigid, rainy Saturday after the Hawks beat the Rams, 15-12.

“They have a heck of an athlete in No. 22,” he said of the Rams’ Joe Manown, who scored three goals and assisted on two. “I think they’d fit right in the Catholic Conference with us. If we played them a couple of times a year, it would be a tough game every time. I think that’s what every Catholic Conference game is like.”

Xaverian’s 1-2 punch of Jake Cox (five goals, one assist) and Jack Wheeler (three goals, one assist) paced the Hawks while Manown’s younger brother, Matt, also scored three goals and recorded two assists.

Lukas Buckley contributed one goal and two assists for the Hawks (6-2) while Evan McGreen scored twice for the Rams (3-2).

As far as O’Donnell is concerned, the tougher the non-league opponent the better.

“My philosophy here is we have a league and then we go out of league,” O’Donnell said. “We’re going to challenge ourselves in our league and out of our league. As for Xaverian Brothers, you’ve got to beat the best to be the best.

“The same is true with Medfield and Bishop Guertin. They’re three of the best teams I think in New England. But I think we’re a very good team. We’re young. But I think the difference today was discipline.”

For the first seven minutes, the Hawks gave every indication that they would blow the Rams off the field since they grabbed a 4-0 lead on goals by Cox, Peter Thorbahn, Cox again and Nick Shaw.

La Salle battled back and recorded unanswered goals by Matt Manown, Joe Manown and Drew Edwards (his goal came after a half-field pass from Matt Manown). But Xaverian scored a killer of a goal with exactly two-tenths-of-a-second left in the first quarter when Zach Bloom whipped home a shot from a good 40 yards out.

“We got up and we’re seeing it a little bit,” Gardner said. “The weather plays into a lot of the things we do. I think we got the better of that first quarter. But they chipped back. They have a lot of good athletes all over the field and were able to make some good plays on groundballs … unsettled situations … and climbed back into it and made it closer.”

La Salle pulled within 5-4 on a Matt Manown goal 52 seconds into the second period. And the Rams tied it when McGreen scored a man-up goal at 6:33.

Then, after Wheeler and Joe Manown traded goals to make the score 6-6, Xaverian’s Shayne Kaminski scored a key goal – 10 seconds after Manown’s goal to put Xaverian ahead for good at 7-6.

“We certainly have a lot of guys that are capable of scoring,” Gardner said. “I think defense is a little tough because of the weather and the ball’s skipping around. There were a couple of wild situations with the penalties and being multiple-men down a couple of times.

“It was a weird game in that sense. But Cox is a great shooter. Wheeler can take over a game by carrying the ball from midfield. He’s just a tremendous athlete. They’re seniors and we depend a lot on those guys.”

Wild finish: To say the final two minutes of regulation were bizarre would be an understatement.

Seemingly in an eye blink, Xaverian was whistled for three consecutive penalties. And during a span of 47 seconds, La Salle was playing with a two-man advantage. But either Mike Toomey (11 saves) made a save or La Salle missed the cage.

“I think at the end, when push came to shove, it was a close game (McGreen’s goal pulled La Salle within 15-12 with 3:17 remaining) and we had some man-up opportunities and we imploded,” O’Donnell said. “We made some bad decisions. But I have some seniors and juniors who can play.

“For whatever reason, it didn’t come our way today. Our goal with these games is to get better. I think it was a very winnable game. I’m sure they thought at one point it was a 50-50 game. We made some mistakes early and a let them jump on us quickly which probably was the difference in the game.”

La Salle (R.I.) lacrosse building a dynasty

April, 24, 2014
La Salle Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team began the 2014 season with back-to-back Division I state championship trophies in the school’s trophy case.

Rhode IslandBut don’t waste your breath asking coach Steve O’Donnell if he expects to add a third consecutive state championship trophy.

“I try not to have expectations,” said O’Donnell, whose team has defeated Hendricken, 16-7, and North Kingstown, 17-5, in the young season. “Obviously, you want to win as much as you can. We have expectations to have a good program and be as competitive as everybody else.

“Be the best you can be and the rest just falls into place.”

O’Donnell, who’s in his ninth season as the La Salle’s head coach, invariably has the Rams among the top teams in the state. As far as he’s concerned, there isn’t a magic formula for the program’s success.

“Continuity, good players and a good system,” O’Donnell said, “they’re successful because a lot of them want to learn and get better.

He continued, “I’m a practice guy. I try to do new things and get them out of the box. They all come from different places but it’s a double-edged sword. Where I am, people say we get to pick the cream of the crop and we get to pick who we want. They pick us. Then, you coach them up. They have different habits. And what’s also important is the school supports the program which has been successful.”

How true.

La Salle ended a drought by beating Moses Brown, 9-7, for its first state championship in 2012 and then vanquished the Quakers again last season by a score of 14-3.

But prior to annexing that initial state title, the Rams were the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s version of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. La Salle lost 10-2 to Hendricken in the 2004 finals, 13-10, to North Kingstown in 2008, 9-8, in overtime to Moses Brown in 2010, and, 6-4, to Hendricken in 2011.

Was there ever a sense that, no matter how hard they tried, the Rams would be unable to capture that elusive state title?

“To me, this is high school sports,” said O’Donnell. “I don’t judge kids by winning championships. It’s an unintended consequence. I measure them by their improvement, especially in terms of the type of kids they become and if they’re coachable.

“When you lose at that level, you question yourself as a coach. I prepare as much as I can. Then, you hope for a lack of injuries which happen in every sport.”

Injuries notwithstanding, the Rams have gone 10-0 in league play in each of the last two seasons. But winning streaks are the least of O’Donnell’s concerns.

“None of that matters to me because we lost a game (13-7 to Medfield in an out-of-state contest),” he said. “I’m not concerned about wins and losses. I am concerned about getting better. Our goal from the beginning of the season to the end is to get better.”

Not only did the Rams get better en route to the 2012 state title but they also endured hardships that might have derailed a lesser team.

“I think winning the first (state title) was difficult in terms of letting the kids know they were good enough to win it,” said O’Donnell. “Two of our top three players were injured at mid-season and that team came together. They learned to win as a team.

“The hardest part, regardless of high school or the pros, is to keep the kids humble. It’s the hardest thing in coaching. I always tell them that, one year, the Jets lost to the Patriots by 40 points and then they beat them the next time they played.”

Winning this season will be difficult from the standpoint that La Salle graduated four First Team All-State selections: attack Brady O’Donnell, who earned All-American honors for a third straight year and set a state record last season by scoring 64 goals to go with his 35 assists; faceoff specialist Pat Foster, who won 70 percent of his faceoffs; midfielder Mike Catarina; and defender Dan Wise, who also was a high school All-American.

But, fortunately for O’Donnell, La Salle wasn’t decimated by graduation.

“We have returnees in three brothers, (defender) John, (attack) Joe and (midfielder) Matt Manown (who scored four goals and assisted on five in the victory over Hendricken),” said O’Donnell. “Joe (who scored 52 goals and assisted on 43) was an All-American last season.

“In addition, we also have senior midfielder Alex Handanyan and (2012 First Team All-State) goalie Matt Andrews. We have some talented younger kids. We plan on having them step in and fill that void. But we’re still figuring out who’s going to fit in the best.”

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.