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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Two of the TVL’s elite met last Wednesday evening with first place in the conference on the line as the Westwood Wolverines (8-2, 5-1), coming off of consecutive road victories over Dover-Sherborn and Hopkinton, traveled to face rival and the defending Division II Central/East champion Medfield Warriors (6-5, 5-1).
Despite a late Jake Antonucci-led rally by Westwood, the Warriors held on for a thrilling 10-9 victory to take over first place in the conference behind a pair of goals and three assists by junior attack-man Mike Hauptman, along with dominance at the faceoff X by senior fogo Dylan McNally and LSM Sam Joline.
“Great high school lacrosse game,” said Westwood head coach John Isaf following the victory. “Westwood is a very well coached and talented team, [Jake] Antonucci is a heck of a player. The whole team played disciplined, smart lacrosse; our guys played with a lot of heart. We didn’t always make the smartest play and we’ve got to work on that, but that’s something we can fix.”
Hauptman got the scoring going with 9:35 to play in the opening quarter with a dodge from X and finish down low to give Medfield a 1-0 edge. Ryan Healey responded for Westwood a little under two minutes later with 7:49 to go with a goal on the doorstep off of a feed from Antonucci (four goals, two assists) to even the game at one.
Antonucci gave Westwood its first and only lead of the game at 2-1 by finishing a fast break down low with 4:26 to play, but sophomore attack-man Jimmy Cosolito responded right back for Medfield with a drive from X and nifty finish up high to even the game at two with 1:35 remaining.
Freshman Jack Rideout deflected home a shot by Hauptman with 9:26 to play in the second quarter to give Medfield back the lead at 3-2 before Jake Sherman fired home a goal up high on his strong-hand after dodging from around the cage to double the lead to 4-2. Brian Abely made it a 5-2 game with a right-handed rip on the man-up with 3:30 remaining. Antonucci responded with a pair of goals in the final minute for Westwood, one coming at the halftime buzzer on an off-stick bouncer to cut the deficit to 5-4 at the break.
Medfield began the second half on a 4-0 run, thanks in large part to key faceoff wins by McNally and a series of possession-saving groundballs by Joline. Isaf credited his duo of faceoff/groundball specialists following the victory.
“Dylan [McNally] has been great for us all season,” said Isaf. “He really worked on his craft and his technique and became a much better faceoff guy. He was solid last year, but he’s improved and is winning at about a 70-72 percent clip for us this season, which is a meaningful difference from last year. When you get those extra possessions, that helps us pull out games like this in the fourth quarter. He’s been great for us.”
“Our guys on defense have some good sticks, they do a lot of work on GB’s and a lot of stick work. They want to protect their home field and they were hungry tonight, we have a good rivalry going with Westwood but our defensive guys have good IQ and good sticks. We really focus on first-attempt GB’s. Our LSM, Sam Joline, I thought, did a great job picking up some critical GB’s in the middle of the field to get us those extra possessions and protected his stick getting down the field.”
Junior attack-man Jack McCordic got the third quarter run started off a feed from Hauptman before midfielder Tommy Gill made it a three-goal game at 7-4 on a bouncer from 12 yards out. Sophomore midfielder Mike Tyre fired home a goal on a fast break and senior midfielder Trevor Ruzzo finished up high off of transition to make it 9-4 with 6:29 left in the third, forcing Westwood to call a timeout.
Down 9-4, the Wolverines responded with a pair of goals from junior attack-man Conor Donohue (four goals, one assist) to make it a 9-6 game with 1:03 left in the third. Hauptman extended the lead back to four goals for Medfield at 10-6 with a left-handed rip just 1:02 into the fourth, but Westwood stayed resilient and battled back with three straight goals, one coming from Antonucci on a 15-yard right-handed rip and two from Donohue at the edge of the crease to make it a 10-9 game with just under three minutes to play.
Westwood goaltender C.J. Adourian made a key save and won the race to the loose ball out of bounds to win back possession for Westwood with 56 seconds to play as the Wolverines were given the chance to tie the game and possibly force overtime. However, Medfield’s defensive corps stood strong and forced an offensive zone turnover with 14 seconds to play on a crease violation following a loose ball in front. McNally took the ball from the open field to behind the Westwood cage and killed the remainder of the clock, allowing Medfield to prevail with the one-goal victory.
“Our guys played tough and they wanted this win and we’re getting better each game,” said Isaf. “I like the recovery from a tough game on Sunday. This is our third game in four days and our guys showed a lot of conditioning and strength while overcoming some pain probably and some tired legs.”
At the time of print, Medfield will look to stick to its winning ways when the Warriors host Medway on May 9 while the Wolverines will attempt to get back on track against Bellingham before a key non-conference showdown with Walpole on May 12.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.