Saturday, April 23, 2016

Postgame Blog: St. John's Pulls Away from Cross-Town Rival Shrewsbury

St. John's attackmen Jack Donahue (3) and Drew Kozub (6) each scored four goals in a rivalry game win over Shrewsbury.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

St. John's and Shrewsbury lacrosse games are rarely uneventful, and for at least a half it looked like we were headed for another classic.

St. John's (5-2) led the host Colonials 6-4 at the half, but Shrewsbury (2-5) had scored in the final minute before intermission to seize some momentum. Unfortunately for Shrewsbury, the visitors came out of the half on fire, scoring six unanswered goals to coast to a 12-7 victory Saturday.

St. John's was powered by four goals from both junior attackman Drew Kozub and sophomore attackman Jack Donahue, along with two goals from senior middie Andrew Cox and sophomore middie Brendan Rocco.

Junior goalie Matt Mongeau made five saves as the Pioneers rolled to a rivalry game victory.

Here are a few takeaway points from the St. John's win.

Keep Chopping Wood

The Pioneers generated plenty of chances in the first half, and perhaps could have been up even more, but finally cashed in on all their opportunities in the third quarter.

"The cross-town rivalry between us and Shrewsbury kind of kicked in," Donahue said. "We kind of picked it up in the second half."

"Our offense started to click," Kozub added. "What we were trying to do worked, and we started to finish more. And the bounces started to go our way."

Bouncing Back

Beating rival Shrewsbury is always a big deal for the St. John's, but the Pioneers also needed this one to stop a two-game skid. St. John's took a tough loss to sudden Mid-Wach contender Westboro, and fell in a close one to state-power BC High coming into Saturday.

"Especially coming off our two losses," Donahue said. "We lost a close one to BC High, so this one feels good to get."

The win rights the ship for the Pioneers, who head into a week against surprisingly struggling St. John's Prep and South Hadley. Things will get tougher the following week, as a trip to Westford Academy looms, before red-hot Minnechaug comes to town on May 5th.

Shrewsbury in Unfamiliar Territory

While they've played  a brutal schedule up to this point, Shrewsbury now has to face the reality that it's dug a hole for itself. The Colonials sit at 2-5, and will need to go 8-5 down the stretch against a schedule with no gimmes if they hope to make the tournament.

Next week will be huge for Shrewsbury, who will travel to resurgent Groton-Dunstable Tuesday, before hosting Mid-Wach A favorite Algonquin Thursday, then making the trip west to face that same Minnechaug team on Saturday.

And things don't get any easier from there.

Basically, the Colonials can only afford to lose five games the rest of the way, against a schedule the puts them against Algonquin twice, Westboro twice, Groton-Dunstable twice, Wachusett again (the Mountaineers edged Shrewsbury in the opener), Marlboro, and Western Mass powers Minnechaug and Westfield, not to mention tricky games against Leominster and Nashoba.

It's going to be a lot to ask for this playoff mainstay to get back to the tournament, but everybody in the region knows never to count the Colonials out. They'll circle the wagons, but time and the schedule are not on their side.

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