Saturday, April 25, 2015

Postgame Blog: Shrewsbury Gets Defensive Against St. John's

Shrewsbury pole Tim Hally and St. John's attack Jared Ward had quite a battle Saturday.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

It looked like another nail-biter between cross-town rivals Shrewsbury and St. John's (Shrewsbury) for most of the first half, but a four-goal run and some dominant defense allowed the visiting Colonials to run away with an 8-3 win over the Pioneers.

It was the second victory in a row for Shrewsbury against St. John's, following up a win in the Division 2 Central/West semifinals last year, and a win that let the rest of Central Mass know: The Colonials are no one-year wonders.

Here is a reminder that this blog is just my rambling thoughts on the game. My full story will be up on BostonLaxNet later, and you can check out my highlights, complete with interviews with Shrewsbury seniors Tim Hally and Joe Buduo, along with coach Nate Skermont, here.

Now, let's get right to it.

Ward vs Hally

It was a primetime matchup between St. John's goal machine Jared Ward and Shrewsbury pole Tim Hally. Give today's battle to Hally, who held Ward in check with the help of his sliding teammates and a great day from goalie J.T. Rothera. Ward did get on the board in the second, though it was when a switch put a middie on him instead of Hally.

While Hally played very well today, Ward did get his opportunities, they just simply didn't go in. He's too good of a scorer to be completely shut down, but Shrewsbury as a team, spearheaded by Hally's performance, did as good a job as any defense could hope to. As one of the fiercest competitors in the region, I'm sure Ward is hoping for another shot at the Colonials in the tournament.

Joe Buduo Doing It All

Most people around the region already know this, but Joe Buduo is really good. He turned heads at the end of last year, and really got the state's attention in the playoffs, but if you had any doubts, his three-goal, two-assist performance against St. John's should dispel them.

Not only does Buduo possess excellent speed, as evidenced by his game-opening goal, but he also has phenomenal footwork, allowing him to tip-toe around the crease while he looks for scoring and passing opportunities. He's a natural scorer, but he's getting even better as a passer, and that's bad news for the rest of Central Mass. When he's on his game, he's up there with Jared Ward and a few others as the best players in the region.

Casey Campanale Steps Up

Senior Jack Campanale took a shot in the second and had to leave the game. Luckily, the Colonials carry a spare Campanale, and twin brother Casey did not disappoint. Casey used his speed to create space for himself and his teammates in the second half, scoring a pair of goals and dishing out several nifty feeds in a breakout performance.

With some injuries hitting the Shrewsbury midfield, the Colonials needed someone to step up, and Casey seized the opportunity today. He was a play maker.

Shrewsbury Wanted it More

After the game, St. John's coach Terry Leary said that Shrewsbury simply wanted it more. He praised the Colonials for dominating the ground ball battle, and for their effort on the defensive end.

While you might have thought that St. John's would be the team with a little extra motivation- after all, the Colonials did upset them in last year's playoffs- it was actually Shrewsbury that played with an edge Saturday. Still, coach Leary knows it's a long season, and trusts his team will bounce back.

"We beat them last year in the regular season, and then they knocked us out of the playoffs, so we would obviously love to return that favor," Leary said, referring to a potential playoff matchup with Shrewsbury. "But it's still April so I'm not even thinking about the tournament yet. We've just got to get ready for St. John's Prep (Tuesday) and win half our games so that we can get there."

Alex Chin Injury Update

The Colonials have been without star senior middie Alex Chin for seven games now, and his status is still very much up in the air. Skermont wasn't sure when, or if, Chin would return this season, but did say that his talented middie has a very bright future playing college lacrosse, and that the team would not jeopardize that by bringing him back too early.

While Shrewsbury looks to be in fine shape even without Chin, the offensive-minded midfielder scored some huge goals in last year's district playoffs against Minnechaug and St. John's, so getting him back would only help. Still, with a chance to play college lacrosse at Denison University in front of Chin, it is good to know the Colonials are making sure everything is right with the doctors, parents and Chin himself.

It reminds me of the way Algonquin handled Davis Kraft two year ago. A star middie that had scored a number of clutch goals during the Tomahawks' CMass title runs in 2011 and 2012, Kraft was hobbled throughout much of 2013. In the end, he was able to "run point" as a part-time player at the end of the regular season for Algonquin on a few occasions, but the T-Hawk coaching staff chose not to risk his college future by bringing him back on a full-time basis.

It paid off, as Kraft is currently finding a niche as a starting middie for Connecticut College. We'll see if Chin plays this season, but you have to appreciate the priorities shown by the Shrewsbury coaching staff.

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