ALLSTON, Mass. – It was no secret that goals would be at a premium in the Div. 1 South Sectional final between Duxbury and Xaverian, pitting two top-notch defenses against each other. But Dragons goaltender Nick Marrocco took it to a whole new level Tuesday afternoon at Harvard Stadium, proving to be impenetrable over the final 33:24 leading Duxbury to a 6-2 win over the reigning Div. 1 champs.
“He’s the most important part of our team,” attacker Trevor O’Brien said of his goalie. “We wouldn’t have been able to come back if it weren’t for him, they would have been up 5-0 in the first quarter. He made the key saves and we got our energy back and we started rolling on offense.”
After a pair of beautiful saves from Hawks goalie Mike Toomey kept the Dragons off the board early in the first quarter, Marrocco responded on the other end with back-to-back saves, setting the tone for the remainder of the afternoon.
The Dragons offense sputtered out of the gate, and conceded the first two goals of the game to the Hawks. Sean Sperzel scored the only goal of the first quarter and a rifle from Jack Wheeler gave Xaverian a 2-0 lead with 9:24 left in the opening half.
Harrison Piper sliced the deficit in half with less than three minutes to go in the quarter, igniting the Dragon crowd as well as their offense.
Roaring to life: When Duxbury took the field in the second half, their offense quickly stepped up to the plate. Just 55 seconds into the quarter, Brendan Burke slipped between a pair of Xaverian defenders to get the equalizer.
With the game knotted at two, Duxbury took advantage of a sloppy Xaverian transition game. O’Brien took over on the offensive end, scoring the games next three goals opening up a 5-2 Duxbury lead.
“We just tweaked it a little bit it was very minor but it made a difference and that with a little more energy in the first half,” Duxbury coach Chris Sweet said of his second half offense.
With a comfortable three-goal lead and momentum on their side Marrocco made sure to keep that momentum with a career highlight-reel save. Marrocco misplayed a ball behind the net, which was quickly fed to Sperzel in front of the cage. Marrocco dived to make the save, knocked the ball out of the air and keeping the Hawks off the board.
“I lost it out back, so I knew I had to get there quick,” Marrocco said. “I just tried to get my body in front of it and follow his stick and came up with it. It was definitely a momentum swing for us.”
Wes Quinzani added a fourth-quarter goal to give the Dragons a four-goal lead and with the Dragon defensive unit that was locked-in, shut down the Hawks the rest of the way.
“We came out with a lot of passion in the third quarter and we went on a little run,” said Sweet. “This year we don’t need as big of a run because our defense is that good and we are comfortable playing with a small lead.”
Shutdown defense: With the Dragon offense struggling to find any rhythm in the opening 24 minutes, it was imperative that Duxbury got good play from their defensive unit.
And just like they have all season long, that unit stepped up to the plate.
“They’ve been doing it all season but they took it up a notch and took it to a new level,” Sweet said of his defense. “In this game to hold a team like Xaverian that’s that explosive to two goals, I would’ve thought we needed more than six goals to win the game.”
Back to the finals: Since last season’s early exit in the first round to BC High, Duxbury made it their only goal to make it to Boston University for the state championship game this year
Living up to all the hype surrounding their team this year, the Dragons succeeded in that goal with the win and will face Acton-Boxboro on Saturday.
“Its been weighting heavy on this group from a year ago so it’s a goal we set to achieve this goal,” Sweet said. “It was a huge motivating factor and we’re back there now we need to make the most of it.”
Marrocco added: “It’s incredible to be back here. We wanted to be here last year and we want to start a new tradition here at BU so were looking to get that win.”