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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The class of Bay State Conference boys lacrosse met on a rain-soaked Turco Field on Tuesday night as the Walpole Rebels (7-1) faced off against the Needham Rockets (6-2) in a battle of two heavyweight programs. Behind an incredible effort in net from Austin Shaver (14 saves), a four-goal performance by Danny McEvoy, and a hat trick by Danny Walsh, the Rockets were able to take down the previously undefeated Rebels 9-6, keeping themselves within one game of Walpole in the BSC Standings.
The wet conditions certainly made it difficult for both sides to generate offense in the early going, but both the Rockets and Rebels made due. Danny McEvoy opened the scoring for Needham with about eight minutes left in the quarter before Walpole’s Jake Hurley tied things back up at one with a right-handed rip from about 10 yards out in the final minute, as the game entered the second quarter knotted at one.
Walpole took its first lead of the game three minutes into quarter two when Hurley found Conor Foley on the edge of the crease, who dumped it home over the shoulder of Shaver to put the Rebels up 2-1. Needham sophomore attack-man Jason Child was quick to respond, however, as following a key groundball and clear by midfielder Sam Eisenstadt, who had just returned from injury, the Rockets set up in the Walpole end. Child took the ball behind the cage and dodged, ripping a shot short side to tie the game back up at two. Moments later, McEvoy notched his second tally of the contest when he cut to the cage and fired a shot up high to give Needham back the lead at 3-2.
Just after McEvoy gave the Rockets back the lead, Shaver made a huge leg save on a point-blank chance in front by Jake Hurley to keep the game 3-2 in favor of Needham. However, Hurley would get his revenge as following a goal by Sam Eisenstadt, Hurley ripped home his second of the contest to reclaim the lead for Walpole at the half at 4-3.
Immediately following the opening face-off of the second half, Needham’s Sam Eisenstadt rushed in on a fast break and fired a bounce shot into the back of the cage to tie the game at four. Just a minute and a half later, Child found Danny Walsh open from about 12 yards out and Walsh fired a shot home to give Needham back the lead at 5-4. Junior attack-man Darragh Fahey delivered the response the Rebels needed moments later, cutting to the middle on the man-up and firing home a right-handed bounce shot to knot the game back up at five.
Following the Fahey goal, the Rockets called a timeout and made a couple adjustments to their defensive and face-off schemes. The adjustments worked wonders, as Needham was able to win both of the two ensuing draws and both possessions resulted in goals from McEvoy and Eric O’Brien, as the Rockets took their first multi-goal lead of the contest at 7-5 with about six minutes remaining in the third quarter. With about two minutes left in the quarter, Danny Walsh completed the hat trick with a bounce shot after receiving a nice pass from Jason Child, as the Rockets entered the fourth quarter ahead 8-5 following a 5-1 run in quarter three.
The Rockets came out in the fourth quarter determined to add to their lead and not allow the Rebels to cut into the deficit, and that is exactly what they did, as McEvoy’s fourth goal of the game on a rip from about 13 yards out gave Needham a 9-5 lead just two minutes in. The Rebels would add another to make it a 9-6 game, but the play in net by Austin Shaver and Needham’s ability to control possession and kill clock proved to be the difference, as the Rockets held on for the three-goal victory, handing the Rebels their first loss of 2017.