NORTH EASTON, Mass. – For stretches of Tuesday evening’s D2 South first-round contest, the fourth-seeded Oliver Ames boys lacrosse team dominated and looked like a team poised to make another run through the sectional.
But unfortunately for the hosts, there more even more moments when the Tigers switched off and a talented Scituate team — far better than their 8-10 record and deceiving 13 seed — took advantage and ended up with a 16-11 upset to put an end to Oliver Ames’ historic season.
There were times, like the majority of the second quarter, which OA controlled the game. The Tigers scored five times in the second frame and erased an early deficit to snatch the momentum. And again in the fourth quarter when Oliver Ames scored twice in less than 30 seconds to spark a comeback attempt.
But there were also stretches in which the Tigers looked like a different team. Like the first quarter, in which Oliver Ames was held scoreless for 12 minutes and had just two shots on target as the visitors raced out to a multi-goal lead. And again to start the second half when Scituate scored three straight goals over the span of five minutes and kept Oliver Ames’ offensive possessions to a minimum.
“I think we had a lot of mental mistakes,” said Oliver Ames head coach Ben Devlin. “Going into the tournament, [Scituate] was one of the teams I didn’t want to see in the first round, I don’t know how they are a 13 seed. I knew we’d have a tough game. When we play well, we can beat anyone but we have moments with mental mistakes and we don’t play well enough. We make up for some of it with effort because they don’t quit, they keep battling. But it was just too many moments where we’d get momentum and give it right back.”
The Sailors certainly didn’t look like underdogs coming out of the gate. After Frankie Ireland caused a turnover on the visitors’ first offensive possession, Scituate was successful on its next three chances. Scituate scored with 9:54 to go to open the scoring, doubled the lead two minutes later, and added a third just over a minute after that to jump out to a 3-0 lead. The lead could have been more if not for a big save from junior goalie Nick Gillis (eight saves).
On the other end, the Tigers struggled to get things going and went into the first break down by three. That quickly changed in the second as Oliver Ames looked like a new team to begin the next quarter.
Scituate extended the lead to 4-0 early on but from there on out, it was all Tigers. Junior Shane Kilkelly, the program’s all-time leading scorer, added to his total with a heroic like effort, leaping across the face of goal to deposit a shot from in close to get OA on the board. The goal also drew a penalty and OA capitalized as Kilkelly scored again 18 seconds later to make it 4-2.
Senior defenseman Shane Murphy came up with a big interception to give the Tigers the ball back and that led to a goal from Sandro Masciarelli after a nice feed from Sam Stevens from behind the net. Kilkelly raced past a trio of defenders two minutes later and blasted a shot in to make it 4-4, his 100th career goal.
OA took its first and only lead of the game when Kilkelly was left open on the far side and rifled in a shot with 2:20 to go. Scituate responded less than a minute later to tie the game, 5-5, heading into half.
After dominating the second quarter, the Tigers had a slow start to the third. Scituate scored in transition with 10:24 left, added another a minute after winning the faceoff, and made it 8-5 on a nice leaping finish from Pat DeMatteo.
Ireland stopped the Sailors’ run, scoring himself right after winning the faceoff and the Tigers got possession back after the strike, but a turnover led to a goal in transition for Scituate, who scored two more to make it 11-6.
“We’ve had that problem a lot this year and we’ve tried a whole bunch of different things to try and address it,” Devlin said. “We’ve changed our pregame routine, we’ve changed our halftime routine…but there are times where they aren’t as focused to start games or to start a half. It’s definitely something to figure out because against a good team, it’s going to hurt you. You dig yourself a hole that’s tough to dig out of it.”
Kilkelly got the Tigers out of the funk, faking a spin to the right before coming back to his left and finishing. And a minute later, on a man-up chance, Kilkelly faked a shot that opened up some space and he blasted another shot into the back of the net to make it 11-8. But before the final buzzer, Ray O’Brien snuck a shot in to give Scituate a 12-8 advantage after 36 minutes.
Oliver Ames cut the deficit to three on two occasions, and got within two once in the final frame but couldn’t get it any closer than that. Masciarelli scored early after a nifty bounce pass from sophomore Remi Creighton and 27 seconds later, Stevens bounced his attempt in to make it 12-10.
Scituate’s Drew Rowe came back with a goal on the other end to push the lead to 13-10. The Tigers had three chances to cut into the lead but couldn’t get anything to go as the Sailors switched into a zone defense. First, Stevens had a rocket turned away from Scituate keeper Garrett McKinnon (10 saves). Colin Bourne whistled a shot just wide minutes later and McKinnon came up with a point-blank save on Hunter Costello in front.
“The zone is kind of meant to give up outside shots and that kid is a heck of a goalie,” Devlin said. “If you have a good goalie and force a lot of outside shots, you’re going to make a lot of saves. We didn’t use our zone, I thought we had a better matchup with man. We’ve seen the zone plenty of times, we’ve practiced against it but it usually takes us a couple of minutes and they put it in at the perfect time, late in the game to slow us down.”
The teams traded goals with Bourne scoring on a feed from Ireland with 3:59 to go to make it 14-11. But with Scituate on offense, the Tigers’ defense was forced to be aggressive and the visitors tacked on two more to pull away with the win.
“We lose a couple really good seniors, Shane Murphy and Matt Saba on defense, Cullen Gallagher and Colin Bourne in the midfield, have all been huge contributors for us over the past four years,” Devlin said. “And there’s a lot of leadership there too. We do have a great group coming back too, I think we’re in good shape.”
Oliver Ames boys lacrosse finishes the season at 14-5.
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