Sunday, June 2, 2013

Postgame Blog: St. John's Eliminates Westboro

Drew Smiley beats Westboro's Dan Terry to seal the game for St. John's.

By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

Here is your weekly reminder that this blog is only my wandering thoughts on portions of the game. If you would like a full recap and highlights of this quarterfinal, head on over to BostonLax.Net.

Midfield Shines Early for Westboro

Westboro built a 5-2 second quarter lead, surely turning some heads across Central Mass, and did it on the back of its young and talented midfield. Sophomore middie Jake Foster scored three of his game-high four goals in the first 14 minutes of the game, and fellow middie Sean Anderson chipped in another in the second quarter for the Rangers.

In the end though, St. John's adjusted and did everything in their power to take Foster out of the game. He would score another in the fourth, but St. John's had already taken a four-goal lead at that point. The Pioneers went on to win 12-7.

"We knew their midfield was really good, and they initiate offense with their midfield," St. John's coach Terry Leary said. "Last time we played them (a 10-8 St. John's win) we put the pole on 9 (Mike Gallo) and 7 (Foster) did some damage. So, this time we figured we'd put the pole on 7, but he still did some damage early."

Heat Favors St. John's

Saturday's game saw temperature creep into the mid-90s, and St. John's was clearly the beneficiary of the balmy conditions. The Pioneers' depth was on full display in the second half, as three lines of midfield and four defenders rotated in and out, keeping players as fresh as you can expect to stay in a June heat wave.

Westboro, meanwhile, displayed supreme grit, but fatigue clearly prevented them from taking advantage of certain opportunities.

"In the second half, we had opportunities, those one-on-one and two-on-one chances, but we just couldn't finish," Westboro coach Tom Baker said. "That hurts, because they were able to capitalize on those kinds of plays against us. Our guys were running like hell, we had guys losing their lunch over here, so I'm proud of the effort and the fact that they're buying in. We just didn't have enough."

Luckly, I didn't see any of Westboro's players "lose their lunch," but I can vouch for coach Baker's sentiment about his team's effort. The Rangers gave it everything they had.

Burdick Plays Like an All-American

While St. John's was still waking up in the first half, newly crowned All-American Hunter Burdick seemed to be the only Pioneer playing with a sense of urgency. The senior attackman scored both Pioneer goals in the first half, and fought hard to prevent Westboro clears.

"Hunter's our team captain, and Hunter, Drew (Smiley) and Josh (Freilich) are what we use to initiate our offense," Leary said. "Drew is the big, strong kid that can run through things, so people pay extra attention to him, but Hunter Burdick does it all. It's the ground balls, it's the piles, it's keeping the ball in, it's initiating the offense and breaking down the other team's defense. That's why he made All-American, because what he does with the ball, and without the ball, is all outstanding."

Stay tuned for a preview of Tuesday's CMass semifinals coming tomorrow, and follow me on twitter at @HereWeGoJoe for updates throughout both games.