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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The saying goes “one player doesn’t make the difference,” but on Thursday night in Hopkinton, that was far from the case with Westwood star midfielder and Providence College commit, Jake Antonucci.
Despite winning a share of the TVL title and a season sweep of perennial power Medfield (12-6), Hopkinton’s kryptonite in 2017 appeared to be Westwood, as two of the four regular season losses the Hillers (14-5) suffered came to the Wolverines (12-7). After a 20-3 victory over Dedham in the preliminary round on Tuesday, the No. 6 seed Wolverines continued their trend of excellence against the No. 3. Hillers on Thursday afternoon, pulling off a 10-7 road upset win and advancing to the South Sectional semifinals against Medfield on Tuesday.
Jake Antonucci got the scoring started less than two minutes into the contest with 10:16 remaining when he cocked and fired a right-handed crank from eight yards away, putting Westwood ahead 1-0. Hopkinton responded 50 seconds later with a goal by Will Abbott, tying up the game at one. With 7:57 remaining in the quarter, sophomore Ryan Healey found Antonucci wide open on the doorstep and Antonucci made the Hillers pay by depositing the ball into the back of the cage to regain the lead for Westwood at 2-1.
Following the second Antonucci goal, Hopkinton scored two straight to take their first and only lead of the game at 3-2. Westwood responded with a pair of goals, with one coming off the stick of senior Thomas Rich and one from junior Connor Deehan with five seconds remaining in the quarter, as the Wolverines entered the second quarter with a 4-3 lead.
Despite Hopkinton possessing the ball for the majority of the second quarter, Westwood goaltender Chris Adourian simply would not allow his team to surrender the lead. Adourian made four saves in the second quarter (seven in first half) to preserve the 4-3 lead until 1:38 remaining when Hopkinton finally broke, as the game entered halftime tied at four.
Both teams played strong defense to begin the second half, as the game remained knotted at four heading into the late stages of the third quarter. With 1:54 remaining, Jake Antonucci took the ball coast-to-coast on a Westwood clear and fired a shot low to complete the hat trick, but more importantly, give his team back the lead at 5-4. Less than 15 seconds later off of the ensuing face-off, junior Anthony Rael rushed in and fired another bouncer into the back of the cage to give Westwood a 6-4 lead. With 27 seconds left to play in the half, Antonucci put home his fourth of the game on a missile from 11 yards out and Westwood entered the final frame of regulation ahead 7-4.
Antonucci kept it going early in the fourth, unleashing another right-handed rocket into the back of the cage with 10:11 remaining to put Westwood ahead by four at 8-4. Just over two minutes later at 7:54, Deehan notched his second of the contest after running a nice pick play with Ryan Healy to put Westwood up 9-4. Just 42 second later, Antonucci put the nail in the coffin, as the future Friar fired home his sixth of the game from 10 yards out and gave the Wolverines a six-goal lead at 10-4. Hopkinton went on a 3-0 run to finish the game but the Antonucci-induced trauma had already been done, as the Wolverines prevailed by a final of 10-7.
At the time of print, the Wolverines will travel to face Medfield on Tuesday night in the South semifinals.