Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Postgame Blog and Highlights: Tantasqua Outlasts Marlboro

Tantasqua's junior attack trio of Anthony Law (17), Ben Beaudry (24) and Mike Frio (19) combined for eight goals and eight assists in Tuesday's win at Marlboro.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Behind an offensive explosion, Tantasqua won a playoff shootout with Marlboro 18-16, advancing to the second round of the Division 2 Central/West tournament.

The visiting Warriors (15-6) used precise passing to find holes in Marlboro's (15-4) defense all day, led by junior Ben Beaudry, who finished the day with four assists and a pair of goals.

The game was a back-and-forth affair at first, with the teams tied at four early in the second quarter. But, a pair of mid-game Tantasqua runs would push this thing out of reach. First, the Warriors went on a 5-0 run until the final minutes of the first half, then opened the second half on a 5-0 run as well.

In all, Tantasqua outscored Marlboro 10-1 over 12 minutes of game time from the mid-second to mid-third quarter, and turned a tie game into a 14-5 advantage.

Now, here are a few of my rambling thoughts, along with some video highlights below.

Added Motivation

Tantasqua felt a bit disrespected coming into the game, and certainly played like a team with a chip on its shoulder. Apparently, somebody around Marlboro told the Warriors that the Panthers were, simply, a far better team, and coach John Pedace didn't hesitate to use it as bulletin board material.

The Tantasqua coaches would bring it up during timeouts, and you could just see the Warriors seemed to be the more physical team throughout.

As Good as Anyone

The junior attack trio pictured above had another big day, and their coach would put his guys up against anybody else in the region.

"To me, they're one of the best attack lines in Central Mass," Pedace said. "Just look at the numbers and look what they do. So you can say St. John's or whoever else, I think my guys are just as good."

Perhaps the best part about Tantasqua's attack group is that, not only are they all great scorers, they're also great play makers. Each is a willing passer, and Tuesday was Ben Beaudry's day to pick apart the Marlboro defense with some darts from behind the cage.

"We knew they were going to play something like a man (defense)," Beaudry said. "They were trying to lock us three attackmen off, so we just kind of pushed, and slid, and it was there."

A Bitter End, but Bright Future for Marlboro

Give credit to the Panthers, however, for refusing to quit. Despite trailing by as man as nine in the second half, and by seven midway through the fourth, Marlboro still fought back to pull things within two in the game's final minute.

This explosive young bunch has a very bright future, and we got to see glimpses of it Tuesday. Sophomore Ryan Mechler is one of the most promising attackmen in the region, and has the ability to assert his will when his team needs a goal. His four goals and three assists kept Marlboro alive until the final 30 seconds.

Freshman Dom Carter, already committed to Rutgers, obviously has a bright future as well. While Tantasqua did well to slow the frosh down, he still finished with a pair of goals and assists, including a nice pass from his knees after taking a big shot. Sophomore middie Evan Doherty also finished with two goals and two assists, and sophomore Devin Raun exploded for five goals.

Basically, the Panthers were a year, maybe two, ahead of schedule this season. Watch out for Marlboro in the coming years.

Tough Battles Ahead for Coach Pedace and Tantasqua

The Warriors will certainly have their hands full Thursday in the second round against No. 1 seed Minnechaug. The 17-1 Falcons made short work of Tantasqua when the two teams met earlier this year, and feature an explosive offense, not to mention one of the state's best goalies in Brett Jones.

Minnechaug is also the high school alma mater of Tantasqua coach John Pedace, who will be facing a much tougher challenge the following day.

Not to get too personal, but Pedace has been battling cancer, and recently saw the disease return. After his team battles one of the best teams in the state Thursday, Pedace will go into surgery and continue his battle on Friday.

Every coach I've spoken to has had nothing but great things to say about Pedace, and I think it goes without saying that the entire Central Mass lacrosse community is pulling for him to once again beat cancer.

Best wishes, coach!


Tantasqua Hangs On Against Marlboro from Joe Parello on Vimeo.


Chris Mechler said...

Joe, Great job this season in covering the Central MASS teams and players. Seeing the on-line updates gave the players, parents and fans a pulse of what was happening. Keep up the great work!

Joe Parello said...

No worries at all Chris. Thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading!