Tuesday, March 29, 2016

CMass Lax Scrimmage Report: Oakmont Hosts Monty Tech

Oakmont attacks the net during the first half against Monty Tech.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

On a blustery Tuesday afternoon in Ashburnham, host Oakmont dominated the first half against Monty Tech on the way to a 7-1 scrimmage win.

The Spartans came out swinging, as sophomore middie C.J. Kelleher threw home a pair of goals to get things started. It was a choppy first half offensively for the Bulldogs, who struggled with spacing, and made life a little easier for Oakmont's defense.

The first half ended with a snipe from Oakmont freshman Jacob Bank, who buried a shot from the top right corner to put the Spartans up 6-0 at the break.

"In the first half, I thought we really struggled with our spacing and movement offensively," Monty Tech coach Jonathan Shea said. "Our fields have been soaked, and we haven't really been able to work on that a ton, but in the second half it was like a switch was flipped. They looked a lot more comfortable."

That second half was actually played dead even, as Monty Tech finally got on the board with a dart from sophomore attackman Eric Glover to make it 7-1 in the fourth. While his team did come away with a convincing win, first-year Oakmont coach Pete Romano saw room for improvement heading into the regular season.

"I thought we missed a lot of chances on ground balls today," Romano said. "We've got to get better there. If you can possess the ball consistently, and not give things away, you're going to be in good shape. That hurt us a little bit last year, and we want that to change."

Looking Ahead for Oakmont

Speaking of last year, it was a successful one for the Spartans, who returned to the playoff for the first time since 2012. The next step will be making some noise in the Division 3 Central/East tournament.

Romano believes this year's team can do just that, with an up-and-coming attack, and a deep midfield led by Kelleher and senior captain Nate McCarthy. Defensively, the Spartans return two starting poles, including senior captain Zak Rouisse.

Goalie is a question mark, as senior Brendan Kelleher is coming off a knee injury suffered during basketball, but he's looked good in limited action, and junior Ethan Card has played well early on as well.

Getting to .500 in Mid-Wach B and taking some games from league rivals Littleton, Leominster and Shepherd Hill seem like reasonable goals, as does another playoff berth.

Looking Ahead for Monty Tech

Last season, the Bulldogs came up one game short of the postseason, losing their final game of the year to miss out on the tournament. Now, in coach Shea's second season, and the program's fourth year as a varsity squad, sights are set on the playoffs.

Monty Tech will have some firepower, as Glover returns up front next to senior attackman Nick Quirk. High-scoring junior middie Nate Maxner should help power what the Bulldogs hope will be an improved transition game, and do-it-all senior Noah Sarasin should again tie things together on both ends of the field.

Shea believes he has a potential shutdown defender in senior pole Zach Cormier, and a pair of sophomores will battle it out to start at goalie. Both Anthony Saladini and Francisco Ruiz saw action for the Bulldogs Tuesday, and coaches are looking for a goalie that can both protect the net, and start the clear immediately.

Is this a playoff team? Based on last year's 7-9 record, Monty Tech is just a few bounces away, and the Bulldogs are light years ahead of where they were during their first two years of varsity play, when they won just two combined games. It will take someone emerging as a go-to scorer on attack, and some consistent goalie play, but this team certainly has the potential to play postseason lacrosse.

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