READING, Mass. -- At 6-foot-4 and 280-pounds, Matt Comerford is obviously physically intimidating in net, but the Rockets' senior keeper is equally impressively in his ability to be a powerful vocal leader all over the field.
Instructing his fellow Rockets on and off the ball, Comerford made 16 saves to help push the defending Middlesex (Liberty) champions (14-1, 9-0) to an easy 8-2 home win over division rival Winchester (10-5, 5-5) yesterday afternoon.
“We like to make sure we are talking all the time on the field,” Comerford said. “Today we were all talking and forcing a lot of low percentage shots. I do a lot of a goalie drills in practice to work on that, but when you get in the game it is just more reaction.”
Mark Dente and Greg Connery fronted the Rockets with two goals, while teammate Conor Frazier also netted one goal and assisted three. Dente assisted an additional effort.
“We go through our reads in practice,” Frazier said. “Progressing through the reads and looking for who is open. You have to look where the first slide is coming from.”
Reading cruised away from an early second-quarter 1-1 tie prompted off an assist from Dente to teammate Andrew Bourque.
Dente eyed the offense from behind the crease and reacted quickly to a group of Rockets' cutters hitting the net to set up the 2-1 score at 10:38 in the second quarter. Dente lobbed the ball in front of Winchester goalie Henry Gjesteby, where Borque leapt into the air and swatted in the score.
Frazier drew the defense to the side of the net and worked a pass across the front of the goalie to set up a 6-1 tally by teammate Charles Colvin with 35.5 seconds left in the third-quarter. Seconds later, Colvin grabbed the next face off and worked the ball to Dente for a streak-finishing goal and a 7-1 lead.
“We have played some really tough teams and we are maturing,” Reading head coach Charlie Hardy said. “[Learning from] those college games over the weekend, we moved the ball well and pass pass dodged.”
LIMITED SACHEMS' ATTACK
The Sachems struggled to score consistently and were unable to assist a single effort.
Winchester's Gerald Nvule won the first draw of the second half and broke through two defenders to score the 1-1 equalizer at 11:38. The junior placed a heavy bounce shot underneath Comerford where it slowly rolled off him and into the back of the net.
The Sachems took 30:58 to score again, while finally tallying off an unassisted effort by Mike McGee. The sophomore ran an isolated chance from behind the net, where he reached his stick out just far enough around Comerford to finished a 7-2 tally despite being pushed down from behind.
Reading has now beaten last years' Middlesex (Liberty) co-champs three straight times, including a 9-7 road victory in April.
“Finally to be back on top with a full league win is a good feeling,” said Comerford. “I still have nightmares of the losses sophomore year and we kind of blew it last year.”