Thursday, April 14, 2016

Postgame Blog: Grafton Sends a Message Against Tantasqua

Grafton senior attackmen Hunter Fraser (4) and Chase Kapuscienski (25).
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

After splitting its season series with Tantasqua, and sharing a league title last year, Grafton left no doubt that it was the team to beat in Mid-Mass, running past Tantasqua 17-1 Thursday.

"Last year Tantasqua bought hats that said, 'Mid-Mass Champions,' and we shared the title, so that kind of ticked us off," Grafton captain Chase Kapuscienski said. "So we came in here, and we wanted to pound them into the ground, and that's what we did."

I could give you a complete game story, but all you need to know is that Grafton (4-0, 3-0 Mid-Mass) was firing on all cylinders, and played like a team on a mission. The Indians were loose during pregame and at halftime, but once the whistle blew, Grafton played with extreme focus, dominating Tantasqua (0-2, 0-2 Mid-Mass) in all phases, en route to a blowout home win.

Here are a few quick stats, and then we'll delve a little deeper.

Senior attackmen Cole Fontana and Hunter Fraser each recorded hat tricks for the Indians, while Kapuscienski notched two goals and an assist. Unheralded junior middie Ryan Tyldesley actually led the team in points with four assists, and junior Brendan Coates scored a pair of goals and added an assist.

Tyler Hart scored a quick pair of goals in the second half, while his brother Nick grabbed a game-high six ground balls. Senior goalie Cadrin Msumba turned away eight shots, and the midfield duo of Matt O'Brien and Anthony D'Angelo combined to go 17-4 at the face-off X.

The game went to running clock in the fourth, but give credit to Tantasqua, who never stopped fighting. Even after backup Grafton goalie Matt Nicalek robbed a pair of break away Warrior shots (and made two other nice stops), Tantasqua kept coming. Finally, sophomore middie Tom Muir broke through to get the Warriors on the board just before time expired.

Kapuscienski Finally Healthy

After playing all of last season with a broken bone in his foot, Grafton senior attackman Chase Kapuscienski looks even quicker this year, but it hasn't been an easy road back. After seven months of off-season rehab, Kapuscienski made his return to the field at a tournament in Las Vegas, and the prolific scorer seems to be playing with a bit more of an edge this year.

"I was fired up coming into this season, and we're killing teams," Kapuscienski said. "We're all fired up, and we want to win everything, we want to win every game."

Expect Kapuscienski to get plenty of All-American hype this year, despite the fact that his numbers could be tempered by all of his talented teammates.

Getting Defensive

You'd be hard pressed to find a better defense in Central Mass than the one Grafton trots out, led by senior goalie Cadrin Msumba, along with junior poles Tom Nicalek and Danny Bartosiewicz. After the graduation of Connor Evans and Youki Azuma, the Indians knew they'd need another pole to step up, and so far Jack Fontana, who has moved from attack, to LSM, to pole this year, is looking like another star in the making.

Bartosiewicz knew Tantasqua's talented attack would present a challenge, but he also didn't think the Indians would need to change their approach defensively.

"We just played them straight up," Bartosiewicz said. "We usually go for the weak attackman, but we didn't really have to do that today. After losing Youki (Azuma) from last year, Jack-O (Jack Fontana) steps up big, and we just play a lot of team D. Shoutout to the middies too."

Expecting To Win

As I said above, this Grafton team is definitely a loose bunch, and they have confidence in abundance. That being said, the Indians clearly wanted to send a message Thursday, and they did just that.

For as loose and fun loving as they are off the field, this team operates with scary efficiency when it's time to go. Basically, they're good, and they know they're good, but they're still willing to out work you.

It seems like the goals now are a perfect league record, plus a return trip to the D3 state championship game. Hard to see why they can't accomplish both.
Looking Ahead

Tantasqua will now have to lick its wounds and move onto a tough test at Westboro next Monday, before getting back into Mid-Mass play with trips to Northbridge and Worcester on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.

The Warriors lost a 7-6 heartbreaker to Worcester in their opener, so those two Mid-Mass games will be key as they attempt to get back on track in the league. Coach John Pedace was obviously not thrilled about losing 17-1, but he thinks his team will learn from the defeat and bounce back.

"I liked the way we kept fighting (Thursday), and we didn't get chippy or take any shots, like you see happen sometimes when a game gets out of hand," Pedace said. "But we just have to get past it. We can dwell on it and make ourselves miserable, or we can look ahead. I think my guys will be able to put (the Grafton loss) behind them."

Grafton, meanwhile, moves onto a week where it can prove itself beyond Central Mass. The Indians will first travel to face perennial D2 CMass contender Shrewsbury on Tuesday, but then test their mettle in a tournament at Weston High against fellow D3 state contender Cohasset on Thursday. Saturday Grafton will play either Weston or Whitman-Hanson, depending on results from Thursday, but either way, the Indians will be playing three quality teams in the next nine days.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Big test for Grafton against Cohasset. Go Indians