- Scott Barboza, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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DANVERS, Mass. -- BC High lacrosse, in not so many words, is feeling it.
After toppling the state's undisputed dynastic program in Duxbury, BC High parlayed momentum from last week's victory over the Dragons into Wednesday's Division 1 state quarterfinal against Catholic Conference rival St. John's Prep.
BC High connected on each of its first three shots of the game and kept building. By the half, BC High had amassed a 6-1 lead. By the third quarter, the lead swelled to seven.
Still, Prep played with mettle in the fourth, pulling within two goals. But BC High’s hot start was too much to overcome as the Eagles from Morrissey Boulevard claimed an 8-6 victory to advance to the state semifinals, where they will face another Catholic Conference foe in Xaverian.
After falling victim to Prep during the teams’ two regular-season meetings, BC High (12-9) finally solved the puzzle – albeit with some late tense moments.
“We knew what they were capable of offensively, that they could score in bunches,” BC High head coach Tim Kelly said. “But we also knew this would happen. It happens in every game, especially Catholic Conference games, which are always back and forth.”
A.J. Kucinski had the hot hand early for BC High, scoring on his first two shots during a span of less than one minute of the first quarter. Finishing the first with a 3-1 lead in tow, Pat Cronin took the reins of the attack, pushing the lead to 6-1 at half with a string of three straight goals in the second.
Pete Timmins and Pat Kearney added goals in the third quarter to pace BC High to seemingly insurmountable seven-goal advantage.
“It was a difficult three quarters,” Prep head coach John Roy said. “Going in down seven goals isn’t really where you want to be. But they dug in and showed a lot of heart. We got it to a point where we could have pushed it to 8-7. Derek [Osbahr] picked up the pace at the faceoff X and started winning draws. That made a difference.”
Prep (13-7) mounted its comeback bid on the backs of its primary offensive weapons: Andrew Gallahue (2 G, 1 A), Drew O’Connell (1 G) and Jack Sharrio (1 G, 1 A). But they would get no closer than two goals, as BC High goaltender D.J. Barrile shined in the fourth quarter, making 7 of his 15 saves in the final period.
X MARKS THE SPOT
The highlighted matchup of the day came at the faceoff X, where BC High’s Billy Breen and Prep’s Derek Osbahr went head-to-head.
Perhaps the most marked difference between BC High’s 13-5 loss to Prep on May 7 and yesterday’s victory was the man at the X.
“Billy [Breen] went beyond our expectations,” Kelly said. “We were just hoping that he’d tie up Derek [Osbahr] because he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. We were just hoping to tie him up and make it a 50-50 ball from the wing.”
Kelly added that his team went 0-for-21 on faceoffs during the teams’ last regular-season meeting, which Breen missed due to injury. With the Duxbury native back in the lineup, BC High is an entirely different squad, able to generate scoring chances through maintaining initial possession.
On Wednesday, it was poetry in practice, as Breen won the majority of draws through the first half, allowing BC High to play from ahead.
“When I got hurt, I just tried to contribute where I could,” Breen said. “I just might not be running the field as much as I did in the beginning.”
BC High was a bit of a work in progress through the midseason, missing several key contributors on both halves of the field
“It was unfortunate when Ian [Yanulis] and I sort of went out for the same time frame and [Pat] Cronin went down for a little while during that time, too,” Breen added.
But, akin to last year’s second-half push to the playoffs, this BC High team is again peaking at the right moment. Perhaps all that required was a clean bill of health.
“We didn’t see [Yanulis] in the second game and he definitely made a difference, shadowing [Jack] Sharrio the entire game,” Roy said. “He definitely bottled Jack up some and that threw a wrench into our offense a little bit. He’s a difference-maker when he’s out there.”
But, of course, it all started at the X.
“The fact that Billy [Breen] was able to win a number of [faceoffs], and put it out away from their side of the field made a huge bit of difference,” Kelly said.
So just how good was Barrile in net during the pivotal fourth quarter, in the teeth of a monumental comeback bid?
“D.J. [Barrile] was stellar,” Kelly said. “He’s what stopped the bleeding. He was our tunicate.”