Friday, May 3, 2013

Postgame Blog: Grafton Rolls Over Nipmuc

Grafton All American Bryan Rotatori helped the Indians top Nipmuc 11-0.

By Joe Parello @HerewegoJoe

Each day after I cover a high school lacrosse game, I am going to try to write up a brief blog, just for some notes and analysis that didn't make it into the game story. If you would like to see the actual story and video on, you can check those out here.

Getting Defensive

First of all, Grafton played a complete game.

I know that sounds pretty self-evident when a team wins 11-0, but the Indians kept a high-powered Nipmuc offense away from the cage all day, never resting on their lead. Even Nipmuc's James Broomfield, who came in as the region's leading scorer, was frustrated, and his game is predicated on picking open shots from the outside.

Coach Alan Rotatori said they don't do extensive scouting, but Grafton clearly knew what to expect from Nipmuc, and they put a stop to it.

While the pair of senior Grafton goalies Eric Thompson and Connor Rynning get the shutout, I was also very impressed by the defensive intensity of junior Ryan Lorden. He kept Colin Jackson, Nipmuc's best offensive creator, in check the entire game. Not an easy task.

All Americans Picking Their Spots

Grafton senior All American Tyler Reilly came in as the region's second-leading scorer behind Broomfield, but could not overtake his Nipmuc counterpart on the Central Mass scoring list, despite the Grafton shutout.

Simply put, Reilly wasn't going to force anything.

The Warriors made it a point to keep him away from the cage, and they did a great job of that. Their defensive rotation to him was solid, perhaps even overplayed, but it allowed Reilly to create for his teammates to the tune of 3 assists.

Fellow All American Bryan Rotatori (Coach Alan's son) also did a great job of letting the game come to him. He would score and dish out a pair of assists, but the senior midfielder didn't waste any possessions and was unselfish with the ball. Nipmuc attempted to trap him numerous times at the top, and every time he deferred to the open man, never forcing the issue.

Senior Sawyer Coleman and freshman Chase Kapuscienski were the primary benefactors of Nipmuc's strategy, as they both cashed in hat tricks. Clearly, you're going to need to do more than slow down the All American duo of Reilly and Rotatori to beat Grafton. Something I'm not sure you could have said about this team last season.

Not All Bad

Still, it's hard to be too down on Nipmuc, despite the final score. The Warriors are moving in the right direction, and even coach Rotatori had to admit that this could have been a different game. The Warriors had two shots hit the post of the Grafton goal in a scoreless first quarter, and the Indian coach knows momentum could have swung if either had gone in.

While Nipmuc fell 11-0, they were only outshot 28-21, but the two previously mentioned goalies were both fantastic. This didn't have the feel of a blowout until very late, and Nipmuc played well enough to only lose this thing 8-3 or 9-4… Something like that.

Still, once the Warriors went down 10-0, you saw a lull in intensity, and the mid-second quarter flurry of four Grafton goals clearly shocked this up-and-coming Warrior team. To their credit, they rebounded to play with focus and effort after both of those Grafton runs. They fought and clawed to try to break the shutout in the final 5 minutes, but just couldn't find the back of the net.

Ranking Them

I honestly don't know.

Grafton played like an experienced team that was on a business trip, and Nipmuc played like a talented team that doesn't quite know how to win at this level yet. Like I said, I'm still pretty high on the Warriors, but Westboro has come on strong with nice wins and close losses to St. John's and Algonquin, so they clearly have a chance to grab Nipmuc's spot in our top-5.

As for the Indians, this was a statement win, and don't think other teams didn't hear it. St. John's and Algonquin have resided at the top of Central Mass in most peoples' minds this season, but it was Grafton that I felt would be the toughest out before the season started.

St. John's scored a HUGE win over Xaverian, so it will be hard to knock the Pioneers from No. 1, but with Algonquin struggling to beat Westboro and Groton-Dunstable, the Indians will get a long look at the No. 2 spot.

But, hey, rankings don't mean anything, and Algonquin will host the Indians next Thursday in a rematch of last year's Central Mass title game. Then they can make the decision for me.