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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite an 8-10 regular season in 2017, the Xaverian Brothers High School varsity lacrosse team was able to gain some momentum heading into the offseason after an 8-7 upset win at No. 5 Franklin in the first round of last season’s South Sectional playoffs. The Hawks were ultimately eliminated four days later by Newton North in the sectional quarterfinals, but the win over the Panthers proved that there was a lot of future promise with the Xaverian laxers.
Last Tuesday, the No. 11 Hawks opened up their season against No. 18 Walpole in what became a battle of wills inside a rain-soaked Hawk Bowl. Thanks to four goals by junior attack-man Sam Jean, as well as a hat trick by junior midfielder Alec Coia, Xaverian outlasted the Rebels for an 11-9 season-opening victory.
Conor Foley opened up the scoring for Walpole just 1:27 in, but Jean responded for Xaverian with his first of the season on a strong drive and finish down low to tie the game exactly a minute later. Junior attack-man Trevor Carroll finished off a spin-dodge with a bounce-shot to give Xaverian a 2-1 lead with 7:53 remaining in the opening quarter. The goal by Carroll began a 5-0 run by the Hawks, highlighted by a pair of goals from Jean to open up a 6-1 lead for Xaverian. Darragh Fahey put an end to the Hawk run with a goal with 45 seconds remaining in the quarter to make it 6-2, but Jack Whalen responded immediately for the Hawks with a goal on a fast break off the ensuing faceoff to push the Xaverian lead to 7-2 at the end of one.
Foley responded for the Rebels on a quick catch-and-shoot 1:30 into the second, beginning a 4-1 run for the Rebels, which featured goals by Cullen McGlynn, Ryan Birch, and Darragh Fahey to make it an 8-6 game at the half.
Fahey cut the deficit to one for Walpole at 8-7 with a goal just 1:02 into the third quarter before Pat Fallon fired home a goal from 15-yards out on his strong hand to tie the game at eight for the Rebels with six minutes to play.
A right-handed missile from Coia from 17 yards away gave Xaverian back the lead at 9-8 with time winding down in the quarter, and the Hawks entered the final frame ahead by one. Sophomore midfielder Tommy Vaughn doubled Xaverian’s lead to 10-8 with a goal on the man-up before sophomore attack-man Trevor Ivatts made it a three-goal game at 11-8 with a drive and left-handed finish from X.
A pretty left-handed drive and one-handed finish by Birch got Walpole back to within two at 11-9 with a little under a minute to play. Walpole won the ensuing faceoff but was unable to get a shot off, thanks to a forced turnover at midfield by Jean, and Xaverian held on for the two-goal win.
At the time of print, the Hawks will gear up for an absolutely huge week with road dates at arch-rival and No. 1 in DI South BC High on April 10 and No. 9 in DI North and defending state champ Lincoln-Sudbury on April 13.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.