Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Postgame Blog & Highlights: Littleton Clamps Down on Tyngsboro for Playoff Win

Littleton junior Griffin Shoemaker (3) paced the Tigers with five goals and six ground balls against Tyngsboro.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

Littleton and Tyngsboro split their regular season series, and shared the Mid-Wach B crown, so there was obviously a score to be settled in Wednesday's Division 3 Central/East tournament matchup.

In the end, Littleton's (17-2) defense, led by goalie Eric Rauker, played perhaps its best game of the season, clamping down on Tyngsboro's (15-5) explosive offense to win 12-5.

Here are a few of my thoughts from today's game, along with highlights of just a few of Rauker's 12 saves, and a pair of Littleton goals.

Aggressive Defense

All year long I've been saying that Littleton might have the most underrated defense in Central Mass, and they looked the part of a top-flight unit, holding a Tyngsboro team that came in winners of 12 straight (scoring 14.4 goals per game over that stretch) to just five goals.

The Tigers did it with a combination of outstanding play from Rauker between the pipes, and some physical and aggressive play in the field.

"Honestly, (Tyngsboro midfielder) Kyle Laforge is an unreal player, and he's got a shot, so we wanted to lock him off and get on him right away," Rauker said. "We tried to slide early, slide often. We wanted to get that slide nice and early so they couldn't move around a lot, and all I had to do was hold the pipe and make sure nothing got by me."

"Gut Check Time"

What made the Littleton victory even more impressive was the fact that the Tigers controlled the game without two starters in the lineup. Both Jared Collari and Brady Hunt were banged up, and still Littleton was able to flip the script on Tyngsboro, who had defeated Littleton 15-8 three weeks back.

Coach Mike Blanchard called the win a "gut check," and his two stars reiterated the importance of winning the rubber match against their league rivals.

"They beat us good last time (we faced them) at home," junior attackman Griffin Shoemaker said. "So, I just tole the guys 'we're not letting that happen again.' And Ben Church, my co-captain got the guys going, and we found a way to pull it out."

"This win felt unreal," Rauker added. "This was a stepping-stone for for us. We've gotten past it, and now we think we can make a deep run."

Shoemaker Shaken Up, but Ok. Breaks School Points Record

Junior Littleton attackman Griffin Shoemaker was his usual self, scoring five goals, setting a new Littleton record with 268 career points in the process, and grabbing six ground balls. but Unfortunately, he also bumped knees with a Tyngsboro defender late in the game, forcing him to limp off and watch the final four minutes from the sideline.

Still, Shoemaker seemed fine after the game, and says it's nothing more than a bump, meaning he should be full-go when the Tigers face off with either Weston or Watertown in a few days.

As for going against a very tough opponent in the next round, coach Mike Blanchard is just focused on his own team.

"It's about us, it really is," Blanchard said. "It always has been. It's about ground balls, and making good passes and making good slides. When it comes down to it, lacrosse is a pretty simple game, so if we play our best game, we'll be in good shape."

Tyngsboro With Plenty to be Proud of

While it didn't end the way they would have liked, Tyngsboro's Tigers had a season to be proud of. After starting the year 3-4, many called the Tigers overrated, or not as good as last year's team.

This year's group would prove the doubters wrong, rattling off 12-straight wins to end the regular season season, claiming a share of the league crown in the process.

With All-American middie Kyle Laforge returning for his senior season, along with a host of other talented players throughout the lineup, expect Tyngsboro to be even better next season.

Of course, Griffin Shoemaker and a bunch of guys are coming back for Littleton, so don't count on this being the last high-stakes game between these two teams for a while.


Confession: My dog was sick this morning, and I got caught in some traffic, so I was only able to tape the second half of this game. That said, I did capture a few of Eric Rauker's saves, and Littleton's final two goals of the afternoon.


Littleton Wins Rubber Match Against Tyngsboro from Joe Parello on Vimeo.


Anonymous said...

MID WACH C? PANTHERS? Yikes Joe, all the work and travel is catching up with you. Hope the dog is ok.

All the best


Joe Parello said...

Haha, I may have had Marlboro on the brain from yesterday. And yeah, Daphne pup is doing fine. Just a little doggie pink eye. She's a gamer, she'll bounce back :)

Anonymous said...

nice job littleton ! their goalie is one of the , if not the , best goalies in mid wach

littleton moves on .. congrats

Anonymous said...

Laforge is so overrated. would not have the same numbers playing against quality teams.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Then again you'd have to say the same about Shoemaker and Vachon. Also he's putting up those numbers with no help around him and drawing other teams best poles and most of the time they are locking him off. Don't criticize what you don't know.

Anonymous said...

They are all solid players that play summer and fall ball and perform well against other competition. Laforge and Shoemaker got his points against each others teams and GD, solid defensive teams, amongst others. I'm sure Vachon is quite solid as well. I'm sure the college coaches, who know a whole lot more than you or I, who have recruited them know what they are getting. Don't let the grapes get too sour.

Joe Parello said...

Haha, I just noticed the Laforge comment. Yeah, if you think the kid is overrated, I don't know what to tell you. He's committed to play for a D1 program, and was voted an All-American by the CMass coaches last year, meaning HS and college coaches both think he's a heck of a player.

I know we always argue numbers vs strength of schedule and all that, but I doubt there's a team in the state that wouldn't take any of those aforementioned kids.