WESTFORD, Mass. – Simply by meeting expectations, Westford and Acton-Boxborough put on a show more likely to be found in June than April.
The DCL rivals went toe-to-toe for 48 minutes before A-B's relentless offensive pressure wore down the Grey Ghosts and propelled the Colonials to a 12-10 win.
“Win, lose or draw that was one of the best games I've ever been a part of player, coach, or fan,” A-B head coach Pat Ammendolia said. “That was just a good, tough lacrosse game by both sides … Two good teams slugging it out. It's a good win.”
The Colonials assaulted the Grey Ghost defense from the opening faceoff.
A-B oushot Westford, 50-26, but really did their damage in terms of possession. The Colonials constantly backed up their shots to extend possessions.
As the game progressed Westford wore down and gave the Colonials the space needed to pull away.
No one did that better than Hunter Arnold. Arnold looked like a man among boys in the fourth quarter scoring three goals and assisting on a fourth. He finished the game with four goals and two assists.
“We just worked the ball on offense, had some pretty good defensive stops all game,” Arnold said. “[It was a] good game. We were just finally able to stick our shots. Once we got one, the floodgates opened and we let them rip.”
Early on, it was Westford's game as A-B was unable to put together quality chances. The Colonials outshot Westford 15-4 in the opening period but were only able to put three on cage. Westford only put two on cage but both found the twine, thanks to Jay Drapeau and Shane Kilday, to put the Ghosts up 2-1 after 12 minutes.
A-B responded in spades in the second, scoring three goals in a 51-second span to open up a two-goal lead. Arnold got it going with his first goal and J.T. Kelly assisted on Arnold's goal and scored two 25 seconds apart.
Kelly also put in yeoman's work at the X, winning some key faceoffs in the second half.
“I give all the credit to our coaches,” Kelly said. “I've never played attack in my life and they switch it up with the personnel. We've worked on picks a lot and switching; we have a lot of athletes so we can get the ball around quick and move quickly.”
POSITIVE TAKEAWAY: Despite scoring 10 goals, the Ghosts' offense looked out of sorts. Drapeau scored three goals, as did Ryan McNabb, while Ryan Hesseltine had a goal and four assists.
However, A-B's long offensive possessions took them out of a large chunk of the game.
“When we got the ball on offense we were pushing too much,” Hesseltine said. “We didn't give the defense a break. It's tough for them to defend that. We've got to get the ball down, have a possession, and give ourselves better chances to score.”
Even with the loss, Westford coach Matt Tholander was pleased with the performance.
“Good competition up and down the field,”he said. “We came up on the short side, but our effort was there. I'm happy with that.”