Eagles Comeback Falls Just Short at Medway

Sharon boys lacrosse
Craig Titus (21) and Jimmy Fitzhenry (23) celebrate a third quarter goal in Sharon’s 14-12 loss to Medway. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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MEDWAY, Mass. – Trailing by six goals at halftime and five after the third quarter, Sharon rallied to try and extend its season for at least one more round. Led by three goals from senior Matt Cancian, the Eagles got as close as two goals and had a three-on-none break that could have made it even closer.

Unfortunately, the Eagles ran out of time and Medway goalie Tanner Pearl made a series of strong saves that preserved the lead as the pressure mounted. The Mustangs managed to hold on for the final six minutes and advanced with a 14-12 victory in Tuesday night’s Div. 2 Central/East first round game at Hanlon Field.

“We brought it in at halftime and we kind of asked ourselves, how do we want to go out?” explained first-year head coach Pete DeSisto. “We were down a good amount and it was just kind of a gut-check.”

The Mustangs dominated the first half and every time that Sharon got on the board Medway seemed to respond with a couple of its own.

Junior Jake Tomsik opened the scoring 90 seconds into the game and that was quickly matched by Cancian, who won the face-off and raced down to score his first. Adam Dwyer came right back for Medway but Mark Bloom tied it again with a step back rip that snuck inside the far post.

Tim Niklas drove into the middle to regain the lead (a lead that Medway would never relinquish) and then a long Mustangs possession ended in a Collin Kennealley goal off a back cut. Seconds later Tomsik scored with a backhand shot in traffic to make it 5-2 after the first.

Josh Rotman scored his first with a shot in traffic to cut the lead to two, but Sharon mistakes helped Medway build a five-goal lead midway through the quarter. Rotman scored his second to cut the lead to 8-4 but James Anderson went 50 yards straight down the middle to answer right back and Tomsik’s third made it 10-4 at the break.

Whatever was said at halftime turned the tide for the Eagles, who dominated possession in the third quarter, although they struggled to cut into the lead.

Needing to find a way back into the game, Sharon looked to its senior trio of Cancian, Bloom, and Titus.

DeSisto said, “It started with our seniors. They brought everyone out, they set the example that the younger guys seemed to follow. It just seemed a little too late at the end.”

Bloom scored first but three minutes later Dwyer was allowed to run straight down the middle to beat Dan Spelfogel (six saves). Craig Titus leapt and finished on the edge of the crease and Bloom picked out Titus for a man-up goal that brought Sharon within four goals.

But, with a minute left in the third, Ben Steinhoff also found plenty of space in the middle of the defense to give Medway a 12-7 advantage heading to the fourth.

“At the beginning of the year, no one who played defense for us had gotten varsity time and from where we came from at the beginning of the year to now is leaps and bounds,” said DeSisto about the performance of his defensive unit. “We definitely have a bright future.”

Rotman started the comeback with a lefty shot on the run and then Cancian quickly added another with a shot into the bottom corner. Steinhoff got one back straight off the draw, but Cancian scored a man-up goal to make it 13-10 and then won the draw and came down to score with an overhand shot to the corner.

“He did everything,” said DeSisto of Cancian. “e started to take over at the end. He hurt his ankle early in the second half and just manned up and kept going. It was a real gutsy performance.”

Anderson again found a lane in the middle to get an important insurance goal for the Mustangs, but Rotman bullied his way to his fourth goal of the game to make the deficit just two with 6:15 to play.

In the fourth, Jack Lesser twice hit the post and Cancian and Rotman both saw Pearl come up with big saves to rob them of sure goals. Lesser also had a chance in transition to cut the lead to one, but his shot on the break went wide and Pearl chased it down quickly to get Medway possession.

“I can’t even think about the amount of saves he made with just the tip of his toe or something like that and yeah if we buried three more of those then we’re talking about something else,” DeSisto reflected.

It was not the way the first-year coach was hoping to end his season but with only three seniors on this year’s roster, the Eagles have plenty of promise for the future.

“I’m excited,” said DeSisto. “We’re losing three unbelievable players…but we had a really young team this year.

“To be where we’re at now says a lot about our seniors and juniors and upperclassmen but it says a lot about our freshmen and their willingness to go out there and learn.”

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

Mustangs Second Half Surge Sinks Sharon

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Mark Bloom (22) scored a first half hat trick for Sharon against Medway. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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SHARON, Mass. – Heading into halftime of Tuesday morning’s game, Sharon had answered back from a Medway run and had managed to tie the game on Mark Bloom’s third goal of the half. The momentum was with the home team at the break, although the Mustangs started the third quarter man-up thanks to a penalty at the halftime whistle.

Medway scored on that man-up situation, then a minute later added a second. Then it was another EMO goal for the Mustangs to make it 10-7 and then another on a locked in, two-minute penalty. When the dust settled on the third quarter, Medway had broken open a tied game and taken a six-goal lead.

“In the first half, we played with a lot of heart and a lot of intensity and I’m not really sure what it was…they popped in a couple of quick ones and the wheels kind of fell off,” said Sharon coach Peter DeSisto.

The third quarter run was enough to hand Medway a 15-9 road win and continue Sharon’s struggles at the start of the season.

DeSisto said, “It just kind of snowballs. Defense is getting beat, offense is trying to go to the cage every time we touch it, so we just need to get better at our mental toughness.”

The Eagles showed resiliency in the first half. Bloom scored a pair of goals in the opening three minutes of the game to give Sharon a lead and Matt Cancian scored the first of his three goals to make it 3-1, but then Medway answered right back with five straight to lead 6-3 with 4:38 left to halftime.

The Eagles did not panic and started chipping away at the lead. Sophomore Brett Litner received a pass from Craiog Titus in the heart of the Medway defense, spun, and scored to make it 6-4. Thirty seconds later, Cancian scooped a ground ball in the attacking zone and drove at the cage before finishing past Medway goalie Tanner Pearl.

With 1:09 left in the half, Titus had his shot blocked by a defender in front, but the ricochet took it right to Cancian and the senior fired it home to tie the game. Evan Rackliff regained the lead for Medway but again Sharon had a response with Bloom taking a pass from Spencer Hall and taking his time to line up a rip and make it 7-7.

“It’s definitely there,” said DeSisto. “We have flashes where we’ve played as one team and when we do that we’re a dangerous team but when we don’t, just like any other team, we’re not a very good team when we play as individuals.”

Coming out of the break with an EMO, Medway took its time and scored with three seconds remaining on the penalty. Junior Jeffery Wenzel then added a third quarter hat trick to turn the lead from one goal to four. After a 2:00 penalty against the Eagles, Ben Steinhoff added his second of the quarter to make it 12-7.

“It absolutely kills us,” said DeSisto about the penalties, “and it just adds on to that discouragement that guys feel when we can’t possess the ball for a minute at a time because of all the penalties. That goes along with mental toughness; guys are getting frustrated and they start taking stupid penalties.”

Offensively, the Eagles started to grow impatient as the deficit widened. Cancian, Bloom, and Josh Rotman continued to get into decent positions but were not able to beat Pearl from distance. As the Mustangs continued to tack on goals, Sharon’s offense grew increasingly one-on-one.

“That’s one of our toughest challenges,” said DeSisto. “We do have a young defense, so it’s not unusual for us to go down a couple goals ion a short amount of time, but we just need to learn that it’s okay, it’s lacrosse, it’s the nature of the game, and we just need to be patient and play our game.”

The defensive unit, including freshman Coleman Loftus, sophomore Zach Reingold, junior Jared Zunenshine, and freshman LSM Sam Spencer, lacks varsity experience and the Medway attack took advantage.

Medway added a goal late in the third and Jake Tomsik turned and beat junior goalie Dan Spelfogel (six saves) to make it 14-7 early in the fourth. Titus scored with a lefty rip to end the run for the Mustangs, but Ross Cooperstein came right back with another goal.

The Eagles would wrap up the scoring with 1:59 remaining on arguably the prettiest goal of the day, even if it was only a consolation. Rotman played the ball to the edge of the crease and Jack Lesser took a quick touch before depositing a low-angle, behind-the-back shot past Pearl.

Sharon (1-4) will try to get on track on Thursday against Taunton.

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