Agricola, Macrina Lead KP in Comeback at Mansfield

KP boys lacrosse
Paul Macrina celebrates the final whistle as KP goes into Mansfield and beats their rivals in the first round of the tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MANSFIELD, Mass. – In the playoffs, winning and losing games generally comes down to execution in crucial moments. That is especially true when it is two league rivals that know each other well and would love to advance at the other’s expense.

After King Philip traveled to Alumni Field and knocked out Mansfield 6-5 with a strong second half comeback in the Div. 1 South first round game, the one word that both coaches used to define why the Warriors came out on top was execution.

“We put a lot of time in practice to different defensive scenarios,” said KP coach Jacob Kravitz, “and we used everything at least once even if it was just for one possession. Everybody on ‘D’ had a lot on their plate from a playbook perspective and they executed everything.”

Mansfield coach Tim Frias was blunt in his assessment of the second half. He said, “They didn’t make mistakes and we made a lot of mistakes. They did very well and they had a great game plan going into it.

“It really came down to their players executing and our players not.”

The Hornets were executing early and built a 4-2 lead at the break. In fact it took only 44 seconds for Jarrett Saunders to open the scoring with a low angle shot that snuck past Paul Macrina. KP nearly tied it late in the first with a great passing move in transition only to have Harry Fallon hit the post.

With 2.4 left in the quarter, Billy Grant made it 2-0 with a shot from straightaway that Macrina got a piece of and appeared to have kept out, only to have the ball trickle past him and over the line.

KP responded in the second quarter to tie it. John Deluca got the first with a shot that bounced over the head of Mansfield goalie Sean Powers (15 saves). Fallon tied it with 6:04 left to halftime when he snared a rebound and went behind his back to find the top corner.

Mansfield again found late goals to regain the lead. Ryan Smith was involved in both, scoring the first when he snagged a loose ball on the edge of the crease and then taking advantage of a bad turnover to assist on a goal by Sam O’Connell, who matched Fallon with the creativity of his finish.

Coming out of halftime, the Warriors took control of the game. KP would score the next four goals between the third and fourth quarters to take the lead, while its defense continued to shut down the Mansfield attack. Even when the Hornets did get chances to possess the ball, they rushed their chances and allowed KP to heap even more pressure on the Mansfield defense.

“Not settling and not playing our game and that really showed in the second half,” said Frias. “Really it was something that we hadn’t done all season.”

Kravitz credited Macrina for sparking his team at the break. The junior goalie followed up his halftime team talk with a stellar showing in the second half, making nine of his 11 saves to regularly deny the Hornets another goal.

“I see it all the time,” said Kravitz with a smile. “He’s just always that good and he’s a great person too.

“At halftime, the first person to say anything was Paul and he said, we can’t get down, we can’t blame anyone, we can only win it as a team. That was probably a big part of that second half.”

Anthony Truini got the comeback started with a lefty shot to the bottom corner on the run within the first minute of the third quarter. With three minutes left in the third, Sam Agricola popped up in transition off an assist by Zach D’Amico to tie the game at 4-4.

“He matched up against two or three different all-league midfielders today (Connor Finerty, Hunter Ferreira, and Billy Grant) and did a great job,” said Kravitz of D’Amico, who he called an underrated part of the team’s success. “He was also the one man clear on the timeout that ended up icing the game.”

Early in the fourth quarter Agricola struck again off an assist from Deluca. He sniped the top corner to make it 5-4. Seven minutes later, Tim Watson forced a turnover in the attacking zone and fed Agricola for another rip into the corner to make it 6-4.

“He’s tough,” said Kravitz of Agricola. “He takes elbows and sticks and hits and he doesn’t care and he puts the ball on the cage.”

Grant took advantage of a man-up situation to fire in his second of the game and cut the lead back to one. With 1:04 remaining, Jon Reed had one last chance for the Hornets to try and tie it. He was open on the edge of the crease and had time to throw several fakes but Macrina still managed to read the play and stuff the chance.

“Paul is an unbelievable goalie,” said Frias of Macrina. “He did it all last year and he’s doing it again this year especially at the right time getting hot.”

King Philip (11-8) will face the winner of Newton North and Natick in the quarterfinals.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.

Alexander Helps Panthers Roll Against King Philip

Franklin boys lacrosse
Jake Alexander (2) dominated the face-off ‘X’ again on Monday and helped Franklin pull out a win against KP. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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FRANKLIN, Mass. – The FOGO (“face-off, get-off”) position can sometimes be overlooked, as the players may only be on the field for a few minutes and many times are on the bench or heading back to the box when the ball finds the back of the net. But when a FOGO dominates a game, those few minutes of playing time can play a critical role in the final result.

Freshman Jake Alexander has come in this season and provided a spark for Franklin and on Monday night his domination of the face-off ‘X’ (winning all but three face-offs) provided a platform for the Panthers to break away in the second half and get one step closer to a fourth straight league title.

Franklin turned a two-goal lead at halftime into as much as a 10-goal lead in the fourth quarter and rolled to a 13-6 victory over the Warriors at Pisini Field, leaving games against Oliver Ames and MIlford between the Panthers and a perfect league record.

“It’s such a key position and a key role,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi of the FOGO. Of Alexander, Verrochi added, “He’s been awesome…awesome. For a kid his size to be as good as he is…and not only that he’s so quick and he’s got good stick skills.”

KP coach Jacob Kravitz was effusive in his praise for Alexander. He said, “They’re face-off guy deserves a lot of attention…If it’s a 50-50 situation, I think we have as much talent as them…but when they get 90 percent of the possessions then their talented players get the ball.”

Kravitz added, “When you’re that good against everybody, you deserve to be mentioned in the MVP conversation.”

When Alexander wins the Panthers the ball it allows attackers like Eric Civetti and Austin Kent go to work and the pair combined for seven goals, despite another stellar performance from KP goalie Paul Macrina, who made 12 saves and kept the Warriors in the game into the second half.

“Paul had a great game,” said Kravitz. “People look at his size and think, he’s just a big kid in net, but his footwork is phenomenal, he does a real good job getting lateral, and he sees the ball really well.”

After junior Tim Watson put KP ahead in the opening minutes, Franklin responded with Civetti’s first on a trademark move on the edge of the crease capped off by a low angle shot to the top corner from just a few feet from goal. Kent then fed sophomore Luke Downie for a rip from straightaway to make it 2-1 after one.

In the second quarter, Chase Tanner fired in a man-up goal off a Civetti assist but KP responded a minute later with the first of Sam Agricola’s two goals. It stayed 3-2 until the final 30 seconds of the half, but Franklin added a fourth on Kent’s first following a pump fake and a few steps to get a better angle.

Kent’s second early in the third quarter was a laser to the top corner, which no goalie would have been able to save. KP hit the post on a quick break and Macrina made six saves in the quarter but Franklin scored two goals in quick succession to break things open. Ninit Chaudhury started it with a quick burst on a face dodge to blow by his man and pick the corner then Civetti stole a clearance and finished from close range to make it 7-2.

“When you’ve got snipers like Civetti and Kent, Chase Tanner,” Verrochi explained, “we told them that [Macrina] was stopping everything down low, so let’s go high on him and they did. Then we got some nice bounce shots on him, so yeah it was a good effort.”

Kent completed his hat trick 45 seconds into the fourth and Alexander won the ensuing face-off clean and raced straight down the middle for a goal just seven seconds later. Thirty-two seconds after that junior Brian Vieten rifled in a goal as well and it was 10-2.

With eight minutes left, KP received a locked in penalty and Franklin tacked on two more. Kent again found the corner with a powerful shot and then just 16 seconds later he found Tanner in space for another rip just under the bar that made it 12-2.

“They have some good shooters,” said Kravitz. “I think you have to respect the talent, especially of Kent and Civetti, and when you pay too much attention to those guys they have enough other guys that can make you pay.”

The Franklin defense was also coming through with experienced players like Sean Lockhart, Matt Pleshaw and Wyatt Arsenault leading the way alongside freshman Patrick Morrison. Morrison drew praise from his coach after the game.

Verrochi said, “He’s going to be a stud. I think he’s a DI prospect and he’s one of the best poles we’ve had in a few years.”

Agricola scored off a feed from Harry Fallon to get one back and Zach D’Amico found the top corner to beat Connor O’Rourke (11 saves), but Civetti answered with his third. Freshman LSM Wesley Bishop scored just his second goal of the season (taking on four Franklin defenders) with 1:09 left and then D’Amico scored a second with three seconds remaining.

Kravitz said, “I think our guys came in here knowing how important the game was and maybe once the pressure was off they were playing a little loose. We play best that way. Fight to the end and that is a good mentality to have.”

After seeing his underclassmen shine in a big pressure game, Verrochi was excited about the direction that the program is headed.

He said, “Luke Downie, Chase, Eric naturally…it’s a talented group and we have some kids down in JV that can play too. I’m looking forward to it.”

Franklin (11-4, 8-0) will clinch at least a share of the title when it takes on Oliver Ames on Wednesday. KP (9-5, 6-2) will try to end a two-game skid against North Attleboro.

Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.