CANTON, Mass. – With 50 seconds left in regulation, Scituate’s goalie made his first save of the night and the Sailors, who led only once, had the opportunity to win the game. Canton LSM Brendan Albert’s stick check knocked the ball loose as the clock wound down and he managed to flick the ball backwards off the sideline to be scooped up by Matt Martin.
That defensive stand forced overtime in Monday night’s Div. 2 South showdown at World War II Veterans Memorial Field, but the Bulldogs would need another stop if they wanted to have a chance at the win. Canton held on defensively for more than two minutes before snatching possession.
Following a timeout, the Bulldogs put the ball in the stick of junior attacker Griffin Roach behind the cage with classmate Mike Shaw setting a screen to give Roach a step of space. That was all he would need. He drove towards the alley and spun back on his defender towards the goal and finished in traffic to lift Canton to an 11-10 victory.
— Josh Perry (@Josh_Perry10) May 15, 2018
“They’ve been shutting off Mike Shaw, so we thought lets play some two-man game with and what are they going to do?” said Canton coach Bill Bendell of the closing sequence. “There’s no one I want the ball with that’s better than Griffin Roach. It was like slo-mo, we’ve seen it so many times in practice. he bring it so high and then inside roll and buried it.”
About the defensive stand that set up the winning possession, Bendell raved, “If they don’t beat us in transition, then we’re going to be okay because 6-on-6 we’d been playing really well.”
It has been a difficult stretch of the season for the Bulldogs, who lost to division rival North Attleboro by two and Sharon by one. It was also the second straight overtime game for Canton, which lost to King Philip last time out in a game that was a mirror image of Monday night.
“We had that,” Bendell said of the KP loss. “We had possession for like three minutes in overtime and then they had it for 10 seconds and scored.”
He added, “We deserved this one. That’s why the celebration was probably a little excessive but it was all that monkey off our backs.”
Scoring was at a premium in the first half. Dan Cohen got the night started with a man-up goal off a Kevin Albert assist, ripping a shot from straightaway. Scituate scored 90 seconds later to tie it, but Canton regained the lead with six minutes left in the first. Charlie O’Connor raced straight off the bench and down the middle where he received a pass from David Allen and held it until finishing on the edge of the crease.
The Sailors tied it again three minutes into the second, but Roach scored his first of the night with a drive to the cage from the right side, spinning past his marker and flicking a shot over the goalie. Scituate hit the post and Canton missed a chance off a turnover when Kevin Albert’s pass sailed over Shaw’s stick.
Cohen opened the scoring in the second half to build a two-goal lead, but Scituate answered back with three straight goals to take its first and only lead of the night at 5-4. Sophomore Jack Connolly made a big save and outlet pass to Cohen for a transition goal that tied the game and stole back momentum. Connolly finished the game with 16 saves.
“He’s a monster,” said Bendell. “I thought he played out of his mind. That’s one of the reasons the zone can be so effective is he takes up a lot of the cage, he’s athletic, he makes clears very well and now we’re going the other way.”
Cohen added an assist on a man-up situation a minute later with a perfect skip pass to Shaw on the left wing and the attacker patiently picked the near post corner to make it 6-5. Nick MacKay forced a turnover at midfield with a minute left in the third and ran around in the offensive half trying to use up the rest of the clock, but then the long pole dodged past his tired marker and scored with three seconds left in the third.
Bendell said of Scituate, “They never went away. At one point we had a two-goal lead near the end and I thought okay this is going to be it. They kept coming.”
The teams traded goals to start the fourth quarter, with Cohen scoring his fourth of the night. Scituate then scored two in a row to even the score at 8-8. Allen struck the post with a rocket of a shot, but the carom went right to a teammate, Kevin Albert, who found the back of the net with a lefty shot on the run.
Again, Scituate tied the game and had the chance at the lead but Connolly made one of his four fourth quarter saves. Albert was again the player to step up and put the Bulldogs in front with a similar effort to his first goal.
“When things were stalling is when Kevin said, I need to make a play and he scored a couple of big goals,” said Bendell.
Things got nervy at the end, especially with the way things had been going in close games in recent weeks, but the Bulldogs were able to pull out a much-needed win. Bendell said, “In my head, I was thinking that I just hope our guys believe because we were close against North Attleboro, close against Sharon. We had those games in hand and let them slip away, so we needed this. This is karma.”
It was also a win over a potential playoff opponent. Bendell added, “We needed a resume win this year. Not to take anything away from the teams we’ve beaten but we didn’t have that marquee win. This is a good team that we beat. We can build on this.”
Canton (4-5, 6-6) will be back home on Wednesday against Taunton, now needing two wins in the final four games to seal a tournament berth.