SUDBURY, Mass. – On a beautiful afternoon for lacrosse, it was Xaverian that shined brightest once again.
In a rematch of last year’s state final won by Xaverian, the Hawks claimed another victory over Lincoln-Sudbury in a game dedicated to raising awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“It feels great beating L-S again, a lot of people still doubted us to beat them,” said senior midfielder D.J. Sperzel of his team’s 7-6 triumph. “It feels good to prove them wrong.”
Trailing 6-4 entering the fourth quarter, the Hawks’ senior class stepped up, scoring three times in the first 4:51 of the quarter, capped off by Sperzel’s tally.
“[L-S] thought I was a lefty the whole game, but I’m a righty. I went left and got a good shot off. It went right by his hip,” said Sperzel of his game-winning goal.
Jack Wheeler scored just 35 seconds into the final quarter for his second tally of the game, and Will Mackey evened the score on the man advantage at the 4:03 mark.
“[L-S] was doing a great job taking away our athletes,” said Haws head coach Tim Gardner, whose team also received scoring from Sean Sperzel and Pete Thorbahn. “We just had to do the best we could to find the best matchups and go with it. It was great to finally crack them.”
“We changed up our offense. We went with two men up top. We spread it out from there and tried to pick on the short sticks,” explained Sperzel of his team’s heightened success in the fourth quarter.
Sperzel’s game-winner might not have been possible if it hadn’t been for the earlier heroics of sophomore goaltender Mike Toomey, who came up with several monumental saves on the games.
“He was awesome, he stood on his head all game,” said Sperzel.
Warriors head coach Brian Vona echoed the sentiment, saying, “Hats off to their goalie. He made three or four stellar saves in big moments. He played great. I thought he was the difference in the game.”
Toomey was able to get his body on some of the saves and flash the stick on others, but he and his coach credited his ability to see what was coming as a major reason for his success.
“Today I was just seeing the ball well,” Toomey said. “That’s what you need to make the saves.”
Toomey Time: Toomey’s performance was particularly noteworthy for an underclassman in a game as intense as Saturday’s with all the extra meaning involved. However, it came as little surprise to his teammates and the coaching staff.
“Toomey is a sophomore who we really like,” Gardner said. “He has great enthusiasm and a great head for the game. He’s still learning and getting confidence, but he was ready for this game.”
“I try not to think about [the pressure] and just play my game,” said Toomey. “My defense really stepped up. They did fantastic. I’m just glad to have them in front of me,” he added.
Toomey’s progression as a young player could not be coming at a better time for a Hawks team that is hoping to make another deep run into the postseason.
“He’s progressively been getting better all year, but he’s tearing it up now. It’s perfect timing going into the playoffs,” said Sperzel.
Warriors fighting it: Lincoln-Sudbury played well, but for the second straight game (including Thursday’s overtime loss to Westford Academy), it wasn’t enough for the victory, according to Vona.
“We’re playing well enough to compete, but not well enough to win,” said the coach. “It’s as simple as that. We can compete with anyone. We’re not playing well enough in the big moments.”
Austin Barta and Eric Holden chipped in two goals each for the Warriors while Harlan Smart and Nick Brindisi added a goal each. LS had terrific ball movement throughout the game, but was unable to execute and finish in some key opportunities.
“Teams know our weaknesses," Vona said. "They’re playing it a certain way and playing it well. We just have to be more ready for that."