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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The Walpole and Wellesley High School varsity boys lacrosse teams kicked off conference action on Friday evening with a thrilling back-and-forth bout, as both squads displayed why they are going to be making a lot of noise in the Bay State Conference in 2017.
Both teams entered Friday’s contest coming off of impressive season-opening victories, as Walpole took down Catholic Conference power Xaverian on Tuesday while Wellesley handled Burlington 15-7 behind a big performance by Amherst College commit, Grant Chryssicas.
Clearly, something had to give when the Rebels (2-0) and Raiders (1-1) held their lone meeting of the 2017 regular season on Friday afternoon at Turco Field.
Despite battling back from an early 3-0 hole and seeing some incredible saves by junior goaltender and Penn State commit, Teddy Darcey, the Raiders ultimately fell by a final of 9-7 after a late comeback by the Rebels.
Senior midfielder Alex Lucas got the scoring started for Walpole just 45 seconds into the contest. Following an opening faceoff victory, the Rebels quickly set up shop in the Wellesley end. Junior midfielder Ryan Birch fed a pass to Lucas at the top of the box who cut in on his strong-handed right side and fired a shot that beat Darcey stick side, putting the Rebels ahead 1-0. Walpole continued to receive the bulk of the possessions throughout the majority of the first quarter, and it resulted in two goals by senior attackman Jake Hurley, as the Rebels quickly found themselves ahead by three with 6:32 to play in the quarter.
With Wellesley down by three and under two minutes to play, it appeared as if the Rebels were going to enter the second quarter of play with the lead. However, the Raiders had other plans, going on an impressive run and netting three goals in the final 1:39 with two coming off the stick of Skidmore College commit Brennan Conroy, stunning the Rebels and allowing the game to enter the second frame of action knotted at three.
The game quickly turned from an offensive showcase to a battle of defense in quarter two, as both the Rebel and Raider defensive long-pole units made some critical adjustments to begin the second quarter. The adjustments made by both defensive units resulted in zero goals being scored until 1:52 to play in the first half when Jake Hurley completed his hat trick with a crank shot from about 15 yards out, giving Walpole a 4-3 lead at the half.
Following halftime, the Raider offense really turned on its high gears, going on a 4-1 run to take a 7-5 lead with about 10 minutes left in the contest. However, the Rebels dug deep and began to win the battles for ground balls during the latter half of the fourth quarter, and because of their hard work in the dirty areas, Walpole was able to generate bonus possessions at the most critical point in the game. The Rebels translated their extra possessions into a 4-0 run to retake the lead, as Hurley notched his fourth goal of the contest to cut the deficit to 7-6 before Lucas potted two to give the Rebels back the lead at 8-7. Senior midfielder Owen Hunter gave Walpole some insurance in the game’s final moments, and the Rebels hung on for the 9-7 comeback win.
At the time of print, the Rebels will look to keep it going when they head to Dedham on April 13 while Wellesley will try and get back on a winning note when they host Milton on April 13 before taking on TVL power Dover-Sherborn on April 18 in a non-conference showdown.