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By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Last season, Westwood High boys lacrosse entered the state tournament as one of the favorites to come out of Division II Central/East and take home the state championship.
One year later, the Wolverines (12-6, 9-4) head into the postseason with a chip on their shoulder for a number of reasons.
Firstly, Westwood will look to avenge a heartbreaking 14-13 overtime defeat to Concord-Carlisle in the sectional finals last June. Another? Many counted Westwood out after graduating the program’s all-time leading scorer and 2018 Division II Player of the Year, Jake Antonucci, along with key pieces such as attack Connor Deehan and close D Will Danforth. And of course, a resurgence from Westwood’s biggest rival, Medfield, who went 11-7 last season but responded by defeating the Wolverines twice (18-6 on April 9 and 9-5 on May 9) en route to the TVL Large title, has perhaps caused some to overlook Westwood in Division II Central/East.
Despite all of this, Westwood has ignored the noise and put together an impressive tournament resume, finishing the regular season with five wins in their final six games, including an 11-10 victory at reigning Division I North champ Acton-Boxboro on May 11. The loss represented the Colonials’ only defeat in 2019, to date.
On Thursday, the Wolverines rolled into Holliston, looking to cap their regular season with a victory against the rival Panthers. Behind hat tricks from senior mid Owen Gaffney, senior attack Ryan Healey and senior defensive mid Shea McCusker, Westwood fought off the tournament-bound Panthers (9-9, 6-7) for a 12-8 victory.
Along with the offensive emergences of players such as McCusker and Gaffney, Westwood has seen steady production at the face-off X from junior Charlie Harrington and senior Kevin Lyons. Dominant wing play from likely All-Conference LSM Matt Cawley and heavy dosages of Ryan Healey and Conor Donohue on attack have also been large contributing factor’s to Westwood’s late-season success. After battling a knee injury for most of the season, John Cappuccino’s return for these playoffs could prove pivotal for the Wolverines as they eye a deep tournament run. With Westwood’s man-up offense already producing at a rate of 91 percent, Cappuccino’s dodging abilities and quick-release shot will be a welcom addition.
Westwood will find out its seeding in Division II Central/East on Friday.
For funny and insightful sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter @fLAno0.