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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Two Bay State Conference powers met on the lacrosse field on Thursday afternoon as the Walpole Rebels hosted the Needham Rockets at Turco Field.
Walpole entered looking to rebound after a 14-6 defeat to Newton North, while Needham looked to make it two wins in a row to start the year after rolling over Natick, 19-8, in their opener.
Behind to five goals from Kurt Brinkhaus and a 12 for 20 day at the face-off X by sophomore fogo Matt Carbone, the Rockets were able to out-duel the Rebels, 11-6, to move to 2-0 on the year, as well as 2-0 in conference play. The win bumped Needham into the top-10 of the latest BostonLaxNet MIAA rankings after entering the season at No. 11.
UMass Lowell commit and senior attack-man Conor Foley led the way for Walpole, scoring a pair and registering two assists on the afternoon.
The Rockets began the game on a 3-0 run, thanks to a pair of goals from Brinkaus and one from senior captain and attack-man Jason Child. Foley cut the deficit to 3-1 with a rip from the middle of the box, but the Rockets responded with goals from Brinkhaus and senior captain/midfielder Brendan Walsh to go ahead 5-1. Foley cut it to 5-2 before Chase Conrad made it a 5-3 game with a goal off of transition. The fourth of the day from Brinkhaus, this time on the man-up, pushed Needham’s lead to 6-3 at halftime.
Both teams had a difficult time generating offense during the third quarter. Child’s second of the day made it 7-3 with 7:35 to play in the quarter, but Ethan Kelley scored on a fast break off of the ensuing face-off to make it a 7-4 game with 7:02 to play. Brinkhaus would fire home his fifth goal on the man-up in the final minute and Needham entered the fourth quarter ahead by four at 8-4.
Walpole cut the deficit down to 9-6 following back-to-back goals by Conrad and Thomas Shea midway through the third, but Needham was able to pull away late with sophomore Nick Sokolosky delivering the dagger with under two minutes to play, putting the Rockets up by five.
Walpole will host Wellesley on April 11 while Needham will host Division II North power Melrose on April 16.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0.