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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Trailing by two goals with 13 seconds to play seems like an almost impossible hole to climb out of, never mind the pressure of the situation that just so happened to be the Division II Central/East Sectional title game.
But don’t tell that to Jack Cahill, Mike Hauptman, and the Medfield High Warriors, who came from as many as five down in the second half to up-end No. 1 overall seed Walpole 13-12 in overtime on Saturday night, stunning the Rebels and moving the Warriors on to the state semifinals on Tuesday night against Longmeadow (the West Sectional champ).
The Rebels (17-1) got to Saturday night’s championship contest in Ashland following a 14-8 victory over Medway in the quarterfinals before a 9-3 win over Concord-Carlisle in the semifinals on Wednesday. Medfield (12-6), meanwhile, won their way to Ashland with wins over Wayland (13-7) and TVL rival Westwood (13-8).
Senior captain and Holy Cross commit Jack Cahill got the Warriors rolling early, scoring less than a minute in to seize the early 1-0 lead. Senior midfielder Kyle Keegan then extended the lead to two with a rocket from 10 yards away with 6:40 remaining. Two minutes later, sophomore attack-man and Johns Hopkins commit Owen Murphy gave Medfield a 3-0 advantage on a drive and short side tuck.
The Murphy goal was the last source of fun for Medfield in the first half, however, as the Rebels proceeded to go on a 7-0 run. Junior midfielder Cullen McGlynn got the Rebels on the board with a left-handed crank on the man-up to make it a 3-1 game with under a minute to play in the quarter. With four seconds to play in the first, senior LSM Thomas Wilber made it a one-goal game at the break when he dumped in a shot at the doorstep off a sweet feed from senior captain Jake Hurley.
McGlynn tied the game for Walpole in the first two minutes of the second half on the man-up, followed by a goal from junior attack-man Darragh Fahey on the doorstep, as Walpole took a 4-3 lead with 6:39 to play in the half. Senior captain and midfielder Owen Hunter extended the Rebel lead to two at 5-3, thanks to a slick behind-the-back pass from Conor Foley which Hunter dumped into the left side of the net with 3:29 to play in the half. Off the ensuing face-off, Jake Hurley sniped home a missile from nine yards out to give the Rebels a three-goal lead at 6-3 with 3:11 remaining. Junior midfielder Kyle Hirshom added a goal with 2:46 remaining on a bouncer from the right side, giving the Rebels a 7-3 lead at the half.
Owen Hunter found Darragh Fahey on the doorstep of the cage just 49 seconds into the second half, and Fahey capitalized with a quick-stick into the back of the cage to extend Walpole’s lead to 8-3.
Just over two minutes later with 9:09 remaining, Medfield got the response they so desperately needed and finally broke their 15+ minute scoring drought thanks to a rip up high by Owen Murphy, making it an 8-4 game. With 5:37 left in the third, Murphy struck again on the man-up, cutting the deficit to three at 8-5. Junior midfielder Ryan Birch extended the Walpole lead back to four with 3:55 left on a strong drive and left-handed finish, but Medfield responded less than a minute later with 3:04 left, thanks to a goal by sophomore attack-man Mike Hauptman. With less than two minutes to play in the quarter, Walpole senior captain and midfielder Alex Lucas fired home a left-handed bouncer from 11 yards out to make it a four-goal lead for the Rebels at the end of three.
Down by four and their season on the line, Medfield’s core of underclassmen stepped up and opened the final frame of regulation with two straight goals as Murphy and Hauptman cut it to 10-8 with 8:24 to play. Less than a minute later, Alex Lucas responded for Walpole and extended the Rebel lead back to three at 11-8 with 7:29 to play. Jack Cahill then scored two straight for Medfield (one on the man-up), making it to a one goal game with 4:34 remaining. Owen Hunter put what at the time seemed like the nail in the coffin on a South Sectional title for Walpole, firing home a bouncer with 1:27 left to extend the Rebel lead back to two at 12-10.
Medfield won the ensuing face-off and worked the ball around in desperation mode, trying to cut it back to a one goal game. After a Mike Hauptman shot rang off the crossbar with 21 seconds left, Medfield won the race to a loose ball out of bounds and maintained possession. The Warriors immediately got the ball back to Hauptman, and the sophomore delivered a goal on the doorstep off a fed from Jack Cahill behind the net.
The Rebel lead was down to one with 13 seconds to play.
Medfield won the ensuing face off and immediately called timeout, giving their offense nine seconds to operate. Following the timeout, the Warriors got the ball to Owen Murphy who flew up the field and found Mike Hauptman on the edge of the crease. Hauptman corralled the pass, faked high and went low to tie the game at 12 with two seconds to play, sending the Medfield half of the crowd into a state of pandemonium and the South title game into sudden-death overtime.
After winning the opening face-off of overtime, the Warriors got the ball to Jack Cahill at the top of the box. Cahill dodged to his left hand, cut to the cage and fired a bounce shot to the top-right corner of the cage to win the game and complete the miraculous comeback for Medfield.
Following the win, a humbled Cahill credited the work ethic and play of his two teammates, Mike Hauptman and Owen Murphy, whose heroics in the final seconds of regulation gave Cahill the chance to win it for Medfield in overtime.
“That’s just great preparation in the youth program and allowing guys to make big plays at the varsity level,” said Cahill. “Just two absolute studs, [Murphy and Hauptman], they come to practice ready to go every single day. Our senior leadership has definitely guided them and they know that we all believe in them, and they have the confidence that they can make plays deep into a game. We’re not afraid to put the ball in their sticks. We believe in every single guy in our offense. Always will.”