King Philip Defense Locks Down to Grind Out Win

King Philip boys lacrosse
King Philip senior goalie Paul Macrina makes one of his 11 saves in the Warriors’ first round win over Natick. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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NATICK, Mass. – As the final seconds of the second quarter wound down in Thursday evening’s Div. 1 South first round matchup at Natick’s Memorial Field, King Philip was tied with the hosts at just a single goal apiece. The Warriors had not only been unable to score in the quarter but had gone nearly the full 12 minutes of the second while registering a single shot attempt.

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Another defensive stand won the ball back for KP with 11 seconds on the clock. The ball moved quickly to Zach D’Amico and the senior LSM fired a strike from more than 50 yards away to the stick of classmate Tim Watson, who was camped out on the edge of the Natick crease.

Watson fired from a tight angle and scored the go-ahead goal just two seconds before the whistle. It was a lead that KP would not relinquish.

“We make a 50-yard pass with two seconds left and he didn’t even have a really good angle and we score, but then a guy throws a ball five yards in front of net and we drop it,” joked first-year KP coach Jamie Stefanini. “These guys are going to give me a heart attack.”

Sophomore Colin DeVellis scored a pair of goals and added an assist, while Watson scored once and assisted on two others, but it was the lock down defense of the Warriors and the play of senior goalie Paul Macrina (11 saves) that led KP to a 6-3 victory and a possible meeting with top seed BC High.

“Our defense is our backbone. They come in and they play hard,” said Stefanini of a defensive corps led by D’Amico, Conor Khung, and Michael Curtin with Macrina smothering the few chances that the Redhawks managed to create.

“They all play hard and if you saw in the game [Natick] didn’t get good shots,” Stefanini continued. “They were always far away, guys pushing them out…and they weren’t coming close to scoring.”

The defensive effort started right from the opening face-off, as KP went man-down twice inside the opening two minutes. On Natick’s first possession, senior midfielder John DeLuca picked off a pass, setting the tone for the type of defense KP would play all game.

While the defense was shutting down the Redhawks, the offense was struggling to find a rhythm and keep control of the ball. A turnover on an outlet pass created the first goal of the game for the hosts when Chris Burnes got free in transition to make it 1-0.

KP would answer back five minutes later. DeVellis created space for himself on the left side and saw his shot ricochet off the crossbar. The Warriors got the ball right back and the sophomore attackers got a second chance and made no mistake with a rip just inches under the bar.

In the second quarter, KP forced one save from Natick goalie John Carr, but then watched almost every offensive possession end in a turnover. Things were just not clicking on that end of the field until D’Amico stepped in with his pinpoint outlet to Watson.

“Guys are getting open and we’re throwing the ball over their head or we’re making the throw and we’re dropping it,” said Stefanini. “We need to clean that up.”

He added, “These kids want it. They want it bad. It’s up to us as coaches and players to correct these things. We need to catch it and finish.”

KP spent almost the entire halftime on the field taking shots and trying to find that groove on offense and it seemed to work. The Warriors added a third within the first minute of the second half when DeVellis picked out Aiden Bender with a inch-perfect skip pass.

DeLuca struck the post with another good KP chance midway through the quarter but then Natick finally found space to get a goal back. Macrina made two close-range saves but the Redhawks continued to snag the rebound and keep the pressure up. Finally, Billy Tinney was able to squeeze a shot past the Drexel-bound Macrina and the post to make it 3-2.

In the final second of the third, KP appeared to score again. Watson flicked a pass across the Natick defense to Ben Palmer and the senior midfielder leapt and finished but the clock read all zeroes. After a quick conversation, the officials ruled the goal was good and KP went into the fourth up by two.

Macrina came through with a point-blank save on Burnes and, after another save two minutes later, he also spearheaded a quick break that was finished off by DeVellis with a nifty move on the edge of the crease for a 5-2 lead.

The game was far from over as Burnes scored his second of the game with 2:21 remaining to cut the lead to two. Natick won the ensuing possession and caught KP’s defense flat-footed with Burnes racing in untouched for a golden scoring opportunity only for Macrina to read the bounce and make another great stop that sealed the win.

“That was a nice save,” Stefanini said. “He’s so passionate and so motivated about the game and this team. He’s not just a good goalie, but he’s also a great leader and he’s always trying to inspire his teammates. You see it when he plays.”

Nathan Minkwitz added an empty net goal in the final minute to give KP the three-goal advantage, but Stefanini admitted that the Warriors will have to take it up a notch against the top seeded Eagles in the likely second round matchup.

He said, “Their first couple goals were dropped balls by us and now we have an unsettled situation in their favor, especially if we’re looking at playing the No. 1 seed.

They’re going to take advantage and be much better on offense. If we play defense the way we can, we can play with anybody, but the offense needs to be more consistent.”

King Philip (13-8) awaits the winner of BC High and Newton South at a time and date to be determined.

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North Attleboro Clinches Share Of First League Title

North Attleboro boys lacrosse
North Attleboro’s Zach McGowan (left) is defended by King Philip’s Conor Khung in the first half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Back in April, North Attleboro boys lacrosse saw its second half comeback effort against King Philip fall just short.

Fast forward to Friday afternoon where no come back was necessary. In fact, the Rocketeers were in driver’s seat the entire way, racing out to an early lead and never looking back to pick up a convincing 10-3 win.

With the win, North Attleboro clinched at least a share of its first ever Davenport division title; also the program’s first ever league title.

“I think we worked together as a team, on both ends of the field,” said North Attleboro head coach Kevin Young on the biggest difference between the two games. “It wasn’t just one guy trying to drive the crease and everyone else watch. Everybody out there was pretty conscious of the transition game, both offense and defense. [King Philip’s] Paul Macrina is one of the best outlet goalies in the league so we always had someone high all the time – that seemed to work. It was a great effort on both sides, I was very happy with the guys today.”

While the Rocketeers were limited to just one goal in the first half of the first meeting between the two, it took North just one quarter to find the back of the net three times.

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In the first minute of play, Owen Costello found some space and then found the back of the net to put North up 1-0. The Rocketeers continued its strong start when Zach McGowan found Nick Moore in front for a bounce shot less than four minutes into the game. Big Red’s lead grew to three shortly after with McGowan again assisting. This time the senior connected with Tommy Lindstrom for a man up goal.

King Philip’s Tim Watson found Colin DeVellis with a perfectly weighted pass over the goal and the sophomore finished to bring the Warriors within two by the close of the first quarter.

“They came out a little more intense than us to start,” said King Philip head coach Jamie Stefanini. “And then just mental errors. Guys missing assignments, not communicating on defense, and just throwing the ball away — just simple stuff you can’t do. When you play a quality team like North Attleboro, you can’t throw it away.”

North Attleboro tacked on two more goals in the second quarter with McGowan having a hand in both of them.

First, the senior attack took control of possession, dodged around and defenseman as he raced from behind the net. McGowan released a shot as he curled toward goal and found the back of the net top shelf. Minutes later, McGowan connected with Costello as he eluded his mark in front for a quick goal to make it 5-1 heading into half.

The Rocketeers continued to build their lead into the second half. After neither side scored for the first eight minutes, Colin Young found the back of the net on a feed from Jack Dakin. Moore grabbed his second to put North up 7-1.

King Philip had an answer when Watson recorded his second point of the game, sneaking one in from a tight angle to cut it to 7-2.

If there was any hope for a comeback, it was quickly erased when North scored in transition just one minute in. Freshman Will Yeomans scooped up a loose ball and raced into the attacking zone. When he defense committed, he dropped the ball off to McGowan for an easy finish in close.

King Philip cut it back to five when Aidan Bender converted a feed from John DeLuca, but that would be the Warriors’ last tally.

Young grabbed his second on a nice tic-tac-toe play with passes coming from Moore and McGowan. Dakin then found the back of the net from distance after a simple pass from McGowan.

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McGowan (two goals, five assists) paced North’s offense with seven points.

“He’s controlling our offense,” Young said. “He’s smart, he calls the right plays all the time. If he gets the ball and controls the ball, we’re in much better shape. He’s just calm with the ball.

We have a lot of seniors this year that are getting playing time and you can see the difference. Last year we were losing the one goal games, now we’re winning them or we’re getting up early. We traded blows with KP last game and ti went right down to the wire. We were hoping to get up early and we did.”

Friday’s game marked the lowest offensive output of the season for King Philip. Defensemen David James, Tom Lockavitch and Brett LaBonte, along with LSM Max Fontes and midfielders Nick Moore and Paul Yeomans prevented the Warriors from building any momentum. Goalie Dan MacDonald registered 14 saves for Big Red.

“My assistant coach John Hensey has been working on some defensive schemes that are really working well,” Young said. “There’s no one that doesn’t have a job. All the slides were set. We have a couple of different sets based on who we play and who is carrying the ball. The defense can play with confidence because Danny is in net and he’s killing it.”

North Attleboro boys lacrosse (11-2 overall, 8-1 league) is back in action against Attleboro in a non-league game. The Rocketeers can win the Davenport title outright with either a win over Mansfield or Stoughton, or a loss from Foxboro. King Philip (10-5, 7-2) is back in action on on Saturday, hosting Walpole.

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