Second Half Shutout Gives OA First Ever Playoff Win

Oliver Ames boys lacrosse
Oliver Ames celebrates after winning its first ever playoff game in program history. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames erased a pair of two-goal deficits in the first half and pitched a shutout in the second half, giving the #8 eight seeded Tigers their first ever playoff win with a 8-4 decision over #9 Apponequet.

It took just over three minutes for the Lakers to take a two goal lead. The Lakers won the game’s first three face offs and Owen Cosgrove and Ryan Donovan found the back of the net to put Apponequet up 2-0. Oliver Ames had the answer though, finding the back of the net twice in less than a minute to tie the game.

First, senior Aidan Connly and bounced a shot into the back of the cage and 38 seconds later, sophomore Eric LeBlanc dodged his way up the middle and tied the game 2-2.

The Lakers had another strong start to the second quarter as Donovan had his original bid stoned by OA goalie Jake Aronson but the rebound bounced off the line. Apponequet once again gained a two goal lead when Jacob Hryzan muscled his way through a pair of defenders and finished to make it 2-0 five and a half minutes into the second quarter.

OA head coach Chris DiGiacomo called for a timeout to regroup and the Tigers responded, nearly instantly. It took just 49 seconds after the Lakers gained a two goal lead for OA to pull within one. Connly and Max Bamford connected up the field and Gallagher found Liam Brown with a tic-tack-toe
passing sequence and Brown finished from close range. With under five minutes to go, took a feed from Connly and deposited it into the back of the net to tie the game heading into half.

“I think initially there were some jitters and nervous with the whole moment,” DiGiacomo said. “It took a little while until they got the hang of things and got comfortable. We called the timeout and regrouped and the kids knew the game plan, I think they needed to just step back, not worry about the moment and just play. And that’s what they did. It was almost instantaneous after that and we scored a couple quick goals, the effort was fantastic.

“I can’t be any more proud of the way they gutted it out, not only winning this game but the way they gutted it out during the second half of the season when we had very little margin for error in terms of making of the playoffs. They got it done every step of the way and that’s a testament to these boys and how hard they’ve worked.”

The Tigers, who won five of their final seven games in order to earn a playoff berth, completely controlled the play in the second half. OA opened its lead just over four minutes into the half when LeBlanc raced past his defender, stepped back in front of goal and easily found the back of the net to make it 6-4.

It took less than a minute for Oliver Ames to capitalize on the momentum. The Tigers called out an isolation play for Gallagher and he took advantage, faking a spin behind the cage and wrapping around to make it 7-4.

Oliver Ames capped the scoring, finding the back of the net for the third time in a two minute span when LeBlanc took advantage of a man up situation to make it 8-4.

“We made some changes personnel wise as the year went on and we’ve developed some chemistry,” DiGiacomo said. “I’m not even sure how many goals [LeBlanc and Gallagher] had. But they’re solid kids, solid players and battle tested from playing hockey and playing on a big stage. It’s been nice to see the whole group step up. It’s a collective group effort. We had to do this as a team and that’s what we preached to them. This was the first home playoff game in program history and now we have our first win in program history.”

OA was forced into a man-down situation to start the fourth quarter because of an illegal stick. The Lakers tried to mount a comeback, firing two shots on net with the man advantage but both were turned aside by Aronson. Apponequet kept the pressure up, rocketing two more shots in the next minute but Aronson once again was there, picking up his 10th and 11th saves of the game. Max Howe, Kyle Agresta, Philip Saba and Max Sheldon all played well in front of Aronson.

“Jake’s a senior captain, he’s played great all year,” DiGiacomo said. “He’s made a lot of very impressive saves and in big moments to keep us in games and put us in a position to win. I had coaches all year coming up and asking if he was a senior, saying I hope so. He’s really a talented kid. He certainly did a lot for us.”

The Tigers’ close to the season and first ever playoff win are impressive on their own, but they did it all without their top scorer, senior Matt Gilson, who suffered a knee injury. Gilson led OA with 36 goals and 51 overall points despite only playing in 12 and a half games. Still, DiGiacomo was quick to point that Gilson was a big reason for OA’s win today.

“I feel terrible for him and we certainly wouldn’t be here without him,” DiGiacomo said. “He’s a tremendous talent. No question, he’s our best player. He’s a very mature, bright kid and he transition from player to honorary coach when he got injured. He’s all about mentoring these kids and telling them what he saw from the sidelines. It’s a testament to the kind of kid he is. We know he’s hurting because he wishes he was out here but I just told him we wouldn’t be here without him. He’s as big a part of this as anyone.”

Oliver Ames boys lacrosse (10-9) now advances to the D2 South Quarterfinals to take on top-seeded Hingham (17-5). The Tigers will travel to take on the Harbormen on Thursday at 3:00.

Ryan Lanigan can be contacted at RyanLanigan@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @R_Lanigan.

Boys Lacrosse: Davenport Division Preview 2016

Canton senior attack Ben O'Neill is one reason that the Bulldogs have a chance to repeat as Davenport champs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
Canton senior attack Ben O’Neill is one reason that the Bulldogs have a chance to repeat as Davenport champs. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

CANTON

2015 Record: 11-7
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinals
Coach: Bill Bendell
The Bulldogs have won two Davenport division titles in the last three years and will be looking for a third in 2016. With a beefed up non-league schedule, Canton will be looking to make a deep run in the D2 South tournament this season.
“I really like this team and I think we will be very difficult to beat once we figure things out,” head coach Bill Bendell said. “Our goal this year is to trust the process…ignore the scoreboard and instead focus on doing your job to the best of your ability and the wins will follow.”
Canton will be relying on an experienced defense this season. Senior Chris Albert returns to the cage while senior Jake Ragusa and junior LSM Michael Pigeon will anchor the backline. Senior Dan Nadeau, junior Jonathan Sutton and sophomore Gabe Galeotos all saw time on defense last season and will fit in nicely again this year.
On offense, Ben O’Neill – one of the best offensive players in Canton history – enters the season with 125 career points. He’s got a high lacrosse IQ and can battle through defenses to find the net. Shaun Kirby, Dan Dillon, Bobby Mullaney and Eddie McCabe will all chip in with O’Neill offensively.

FOXBORO

2015 Record: 12-8
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East Quarterfinals
Coach: Matt Noone
Foxboro graduated a handful of talented players last season but the biggest loss might be losing last year’s leading scorer Pat McCarthy to a knee injury this year. But with five seniors and plethora of youth, Warriors will look to try and claim their first Davenport title since 2011.
“You can’t replace Pat McCarthy, thankfully we still have his leadership, he will help the young guys,” Foxboro head coach Matt Noone said.
Connor McNamara and Brian Buckner are both entering their third year on varsity and will be relied upon heavily. McNamara is a factor at both sends of the field, Noone adding “He can carry us at times.” Buckner, a defenseman, possess great speed and positions himself well, Noone saying “His athleticism and IQ make him tough to beat on and off the ball.”
Foxboro will rely on Andrew Whalen, Louis Piccolo and James Silveria – all sophomores – on attack. McNamara will be complemented in the midfield by senior Austin Ryan and juniors Colin Spinney and Trey Guerrini. Noone called all three great athletes. Defensively, two year starters Tom Piccolo and Bobby Kierce will work alongside Buckner while sophomore Pat Kaveny has improved his game as well.
Expect sophomore Jake Addeche and junior Tyler Silveria to battle for the starting goalie job.

MILFORD

2015 Record: 2-17
2015 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Ralph Bono
Milford will be looking to try and improve after recording just two wins in the 2015 season. New head coach Ralph Bono will try to turn things around in his first year at the helm.
The Scarlet Hawks graduated their two top scorers from last season in Nick Mobilia (30 points) and Spencer Lawson (19 points) so there will be some questions to answer up front.
In midfield, junior Alex Salamone registered 10 points last season and had 12 grounds balls while sophomore Andrew Gallagher made an impact with nine points in his rookie campaign. Jack Boyle, Nick Lurie and Ian Bucal all factored into the scoring last year as well.
Defensively, Harrison Bliss led the Scarlet Hawks defensemen in grounds balls as a sophomore while Andrew Palaria and Riley Burns also saw time. In goal, Pietro Bon Tempo made 123 saves last year in 17 games played and should provide some experience in the back.

OLIVER AMES

2016 Record: 6-10
2016 Finish: Missed playoffs
Coach: Chris DiGiacomo
After missing out on the playoffs last season, second year skipper Chris DiGiacomo will be relying on a large senior class to try to get back to the postseason.
“There is a lot of positive energy surrounding the program currently,” head coach Chris DiGiacomo said. “The boys have been working very hard, and we are very excited to get started.”
Senior attack Matt Gilson is back for his fourth year on varsity to pace the offense while senior Jake Aronson returns to man the goal for the Tigers. Senior captain middie Aidan Connly will be relied upon to take care of both ends of the field.
Connly will be joined by classmates Mike Sullivan, Jack Long, Connor Howe and Max Bamford so the Tigers will boast a very experienced midfield. On defense, senior Max Sheldon will anchor the backline in front of Aronson.

Sharon

2015 Record: 10-9
2015 Finish: Reached D2 Central/East First Round
Coach: Peter DeSisto
The Eagles are looking to get back to the top of the Davenport mountain and are hoping former Canton player Peter DeSisto will lead them there in his first year at the helm.
“I am really excited for this season, we are a young team but the captains and upperclassmen have really set the tone for this season,” DeSisto said. “They’re showing the newer players what it takes to be successful at this level. We’ve set high expectations for ourselves, but we know that if we come together as a unit and work hard we are completely capable of reaching our goals.”
After coming up just short in the division race last year, Sharon has a strong returning core to try to win the division for the second time in three years. Senior captains Mark Bloom and Craig Titus will be the focus of the attack again this year while sophomore Jon Greenberg will be back in goal after a terrific freshman campaign in 2015.
UMass commit Josh Rotman will be paired with senior captain Matt Cancian in the midfield to provide a power 1-2 punch while sophomores Spencer Hall and Chase Waxman will also see a lot of time in the middle of the field. Sharon will have to fill some holes defensively but expect junior Jared Zunenshine and sophomore Zach Reingold to step in.