Thursday, June 13, 2013

Postgame Blog: Longmeadow Defeats St. John's in D2 Semifinal

The officials scolded Josh Freilich for this Superman pose, but I thought it was pretty awesome.

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

Here is your weekly reminder that this blog is only my wandering thoughts on the game. If you would like a full recap head to BostonLaxNet or ESPN Boston. The LaxNet story also includes video.

Anyways, here we go.

A Heck of a Two-Man Show

With all due respect to Longmeadow coach Ryan Liebel and his guys that said this was a total team effort (It was), two guys stood above the rest. It felt like everything Longmeadow did well somehow involved juniors Zach Lukas or Drew Kelleher. The former scored a goal and tallied five assists, while the latter scored four goals, dished out a pair of assists and collected 10 ground balls.

Oh yeah, and he handled face-off duties for the Lancers as well.

St. John's knew they would have to beat Kelleher on the draw more often in this rematch, and they did. But, Kelleher was ever more effective on ground balls, and he asserted himself more offensively to make up for it. Lukas was just flat-out fantastic setting the table for his teammates.

These two came up big in the biggest game of the season... So far.

Exceeding Expectations

While St. John's saw its season end Wednesday, the Pioneers weren't hanging their heads. Rather, senior attackmen Josh Freilich and Hunter Burdick reflected on all their team had accomplished in 2013. After all, the Pioneers finished third in Central Mass a year ago, and many thought that Grafton would dominate the region this season. That is, if Algonquin didn't go for a three-peat.

"It was a great season," Freilich said. "We did everything we wanted to in Central Mass, and we played some big games out in Eastern and Western Mass that nobody thought we had a chance in. Games like Acton-Boxborough, Xaverian... I don't think we have a bad loss on our schedule."

"We had some good wins against Division I teams, that's obviously important," Burdick said. "But winning the district championship was special. I was lucky enough to be called up my freshman year, which was the last time we won it, and I was on the team when we lost the last two years. So, a district championship is probably what I'll remember most."

A Tight-Knit Group

Part of the reason St. John's was able to dominate Central Mass was the camaraderie of the team throughout. The Pioneers stuck together after a disappointing 2012, and geared up for a special 2013. They accomplished that, and you can tell the guys were sad to see it end.

"This is a team that could have been undefeated, and it's a special team," Freilich said. "We're close on and off the field, and I think that shows."

"I'll remember how close we were," Burdick said. "As a team, as a family. That's another thing I'll remember."

More Competitive This Time Around?

Longmeadow will face Medfield for the D2 State Championship Friday at Worcester's Foley Stadium. These two teams have already met this season, with Longmeadow blowing out Medfield 16-1 in mid-May. Coach Liebel expects a totally different game this time around.

Liebel cites the improved play of five-time state champion Medfield as reason his team can't take anything for granted. He also notes that the first matchup at Longmeadow was on high grass, slowing the explosive Medfield offense down.

Also, you have to believe revenge will be on Medfield's mind.