Boston High School: Sean Sperzel

Recap: No. 9 Xaverian 7, No. 8 Lincoln-Sudbury 6

May, 17, 2014

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."

Recap: No. 4 Xaverian 7, No. 12 CM 3

April, 30, 2014
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. – It’s not about the quantity of chances, it’s about the quality.

There weren’t many scoring chances to go around on either side in Tuesday night’s Catholic Conference lacrosse duel between No. 4 Xaverian and No. 12 Catholic Memorial, but the Hawks were simply the more patient, more efficient team.

Xaverian took a 7-3 win, completing a season sweep over its league rival, while improving 5-0 in Catholic Conference play.

“Possession is everything in a game like this,” Hawks head coach Tim Gardner said. “We know they can score if we give them the opportunity. They have talent and I think they’re their best with odd-man opportunities and on the fastbreak, so really we just wanted to slow the game down – play six-on-six.”

The Hawks (7-2) had contributions from six different goalscorers and never trailed.

Xaverian took a 3-0 lead through the first quarter, with goals from Will McCarthy and D.J. and Sean Sperzel. A pair of second-quarter goals from Lukas Buckley helped the Hawks to a 6-2 halftime lead.

In the second half, Xaverian’s staunch defense took over, limiting the Knights’ clean looks at the cage, as CM (7-3) was only able to get four shots on goal.

“We’re making our slides and recovering well, it’s all the things that you hope guys are doing – talking, communicating,” Gardner said. “They’re really buying into the system. They’re great athletes out there and we’re just letting them run.”

Joe Zegarelli made nine saves to keep the Knights in it, while Zach O’Brien scored a pair of goals. Frank Cosolito scored the lone goal of the third quarter to get CM within three goals at 6-3, but

“They controlled that game, the possession time had to be 60-40,” CM head coach Kevin Lynch said. “They won some faceoffs and, then when they got the ball, there’s a reason they’re a top team. They get the ball, they hang onto it. They took their time, got good shots and made them count.”
With spring sports and lacrosse practices kicking off across the state this week, we’re catching up with one of the sports’ rising stars.

Xaverian freshman Sean Sperzel has yet to suit up for the reigning Division 1 state champion Hawks, but he recently ended his college search, giving a verbal commitment to Penn State.

We recently caught up with the 5-foot-10, 160-pound attack for this Q-and-A:

Q: What helped make you decision to go with Penn State?

A: “I spent three days at Penn State and was able to watch practice, their game against Michigan, and speak to players on the team, including James Burke [Duxbury] and Connor Darcey [Wellesley] who both played for Laxachusetts. Everyone I spoke to had great things to say about Penn State, the lacrosse program, and Coach [Jeff] Tambroni and his staff.”

Q: What other programs had expressed interest or made offers?

A: “I went on unofficial visits to Penn, Villanova, BU, Princeton, and Penn State. I really wanted to go to a big school that had a good business program and a school that would have a chance to play for championships. Penn State offered all these things and I really liked Coach Tambroni and his staff. Penn State's lacrosse facilities were amazing and they will be moving to the Big 10 in lacrosse, so they will play some great competition. Having just beat [then] No. 3 Notre Dame, they are already playing at the highest level. I knew it was the place for me, so I verbally accepted their scholarship offer a few days after my visit.”

Q: In what ways did your brother (Xaverian senior midfielder D.J. Sperzel) help you out in this process?

A: “It helped a lot that D.J. went through this process too, because I knew a little about what to expect. He and I talked a lot about the right fit for a school with academics, social life, lacrosse, and geography – all important things. I also had a chance to see a lot of colleges over the past few years during summer lacrosse tournaments. This really helped me know what kind of school I would want to go to.”

Q: What are your expectations for the upcoming season?

A: “I have a long way to go before I get there, so I just need to work really hard to keep getting better. I hope to contribute to Xaverian this year. I’ve known most of the kids on the team because of D.J. and we've been playing indoor this winter and have been having captains’ practices. I know the expectations for this year are pretty high and everyone has been working hard and getting ready for tryouts."