Saturday, April 15, 2017

La Salle Academy (R.I.) Handles BC High Boys' Lacrosse

La Salle Academy senior captain Logan Liljeberg locks up defensively
BOSTON – The La Salle Academy (R.I.) boys' lacrosse program has enjoyed an unprecedented run of success since Steve O’Donnell took over as head coach 12 seasons ago.

O’Donnell led the Rams to their first state title in 2012 before winning four more consecutive Rhode Island Division 1 championships, and on Saturday afternoon at BC High, the former Providence College coach earned his 125th high school victory, as his experienced team ran away from the Eagles for an 11-5 victory.

La Salle Academy (5-1) dictated the pace of play and frustrated the No. 2 Eagles (5-1) all game long and dominated time of possession, while their solid team defense frustrated BC High’s sputtering offense.

“There’s really nothing that [The Rams] don’t do well," BC High head coach Steve Lydon recognized. "So, we knew that they’re a team that can test us in a lot of different ways and we just didn’t have many answers today."

The Eagles fell behind just nine seconds after the opening face-off when Rams midfielder Evan McGreen (2 goals, 2 assists) scooped up the first ground ball and streaked down the field for an early goal. 

“We knew [BC High] was really good, so we wanted to come out strong right off the bat,” said McGreen, adding “ We knew they were going to come back strong, so we wanted to make sure we stayed disciplined and just kept doing what we were doing at the beginning of the game.”

However, BC High erased a 3-0 deficit with three goals in the span of 93 seconds early in the second quarter

That’s when the Rams turned up the intensity and broke through with two goals at the end of the first half, including a clutch score from sophomore middie Nicholas Handy (2 goals) with eight seconds left in the second quarter.

They carried that momentum into a third quarter in which they scored four unanswered to open a 9-3 advantage while receiving contributions from all over the roster.

“I Love playing [BC High] and give them a lot of credit for coming back,” said O’Donnell. “We played really well defensively and our non-starters performed really well considering four of our goals came from kids who don’t play a lot of minutes.”

In addition to Handy and McGreen, seniors Drew Edwards, Lolan Liljeberg and sophomore Max Beauchamp also netted two goals for the visitors. 

For a program that suffered it’s first loss in a season and half when Moses Brown edged the Rams 11-10 back on April 7, it’s great to see the team come together for a quality win against an elite out-of-state opponent. 

“They were reading the headlines about how good they are and that led to some lapses last week, so as coaches we had to rein it in,” O’Donnell said. “On any given day,  with the talent that’s out there in high school lacrosse, you can lose. Our goal is to get this team better, keep them grounded and stay focused and it’s a great help to face an elite Massachusetts opponent.”

BC High struggled to create any offensive opportunities outside of that three-goal burst early in the second quarter. Junior attack Charlie Pyne (Goal, Assist) provided a highlight goal during that stretch and Patrick Jennings assisted on the other two goals, but the Eagles had very few answers for an experienced La Salle team in the second half. 

“[The Rams] played their game. They have a very strong defensive unit and they matched up well against our attackmen. They took away our transition, they killed us on the face offs and they dictated the pace of play,” said Lydon.

“You always feel like you learn a little bit more from a loss than a win,” Lydon added. “But we need to find the answers fast."

To add to those concerns, BC High's All-American junior defenseman Will Bowen left the game with a knee injury and he could miss significant time depending on the diagnosis.

Sophomore attack Christian Price scored and freshman Aidan Carroll found Laim McDonald for a goal to make it 11-5 late in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late for the Eagles. 

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