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Late Norwood rally stuns Wolverines

Junior close D Thomas Demaio (11) avoids an attack-man on the ride and moves the ball up the left alley. Photo by Mike Flanagan.

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Coming off back-to-back defeats to Medfield (16-5) and Hopkinton (14-12), Westwood High School varsity boys lacrosse travelled to Norwood on Wednesday sitting at 5-6. A win against the Mustangs (6-6) would bring the Wolverines back to .500 with two games to go.

With the current depth of Division II Central/East, an 8-6 final record appears to be the cut-off for qualification. A defeat to Norwood meant 7-7 would the best Westwood could have. Simply put, Wednesday was a must-win. After grinding their way to an 11-10 win over Norwood at home on May 12, the Wolverines knew they were in for a dogfight.

Westwood's offense was without the services of attack-man Brandon Varnerin on Wednesday due to a concussion, which meant somebody was going to have to step up. In the early going, senior Connor Danieli did just that. A step-down bouncer by Danieli opened the scoring with 4:39 to play in the first quarter. Norwood tied the game at one late in the quarter, thanks to a drive and finish at the crease by Jared Connell.

Still 1-1 with 8:09 to play in the half, John David launched home a cannon on the man-up to reclaim the lead for the Wolverines at 2-1. David's goal sparked a 3-0 run, with subsequent goals coming from Ben O'Brien on a righty step down and a nice dodge from X and finish down low by Liam O'Reagan. Richie Carroll put a stop to Westwood's run on the man-up with 1:02 to play in the half by quick-sticking home a feed from Connell at the crease. With time winding down in the half, Danieli spun his way through a pair of defenders and fired home a right-handed crank at the buzzer for his second of the day. More importantly, Danieli's late strike pushed Westwood's lead to 5-2 at halftime.

The momentum gained by Danieli's buzzer-beater was short-lived for the Wolverines, as a highlight-reel goal by Connell on a dodge and left-handed crank cut the deficit to 5-3. Connell's third of the day moments later on a steal and dump-in at the crease trimmed the deficit to 5-4 at the end of three.

With Norwood on the man-up midway through the fourth, Connell ripped home a lefty bouncer to tie the game at five. Still 5-5 with 3:13 remaining, Nick Spadorcia shoveled home a goal on the man-up to give Norwood a 6-5 lead. With Westwood's defensive unit pressing aggressively with under two minutes to play trying to get back possession, Connell found an open Kevin Sople in the center-box for a step-down snipe up high, pushing the lead to 7-5. Norwood's defense completed the second half shutout as the Mustangs finished the game on a 5-0 run to come away with the 7-5 victory.

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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