Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Duxbury Lacrosse Bouncing Back from a Rare "Down Year"

By Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi)

If Duxbury isn’t supposed to be where it is now, don’t tell the Dragons. After starting the season down in the rankings, Duxbury has found itself near the top of Eastern Mass as one of the hottest teams in Division 1.

The Dragons (9-2) have gone on a surge following a loss at Garden City, Long Island two weeks ago. With three significant wins, and two more challenging games on the horizon, Duxbury is a team on a mission to return to the top of Commonwealth lacrosse.

“At the moment we’re playing very well,” said head coach Chris Sweet. “We came back from a loss on Long Island licking our wounds, but the boys didn’t get discouraged and had a great week of practice to play well.”

The Dragons held Hingham to its season low in goals, and Medfield its second-lowest total of the season. Considering those two programs have been among the best in Eastern Mass, it's easy to see why Duxbury is feeling great about its back end.

“The defense is playing well, but it starts with our goalie, Henry Weld,” said Sweet. “He’s been really sharp with key stops in key moments. The close D is doing it’s job, but it’s really the midfield defense as well.”

Sweet’s Dragons have found an identity shutting teams down, only giving up double-digit goals to Garden City.

Since then, Duxbury has gone on to shock Hingham, Medfield, and Xaverian with solid defensive play.

“The midfield defense has been key,” Sweet said. “They play well and hustle, especially the two-way midfielders up and down the field. If they can hold a team down, there’s a chance we can score.

“We put together 12 quarters of quality lacrosse.”

Last season, the Dragons suffered a setback with an 11-8 campaign where they lost to all three of the teams they've defeated in recent weeks.

Last winning a title in 2012, Duxbury suffered two OT playoff losses in the past four seasons to get back to this point as state title contenders. In a D1 where, other than Lincoln-Sudbury, no one has emerged as an obvious favorite, the Dragons are one of the teams to watch out for.

The eight losses in 2016 were Duxbury’s most in more than 12 years. For a team that has perennially been a force to be reckoned with, and fancies itself one of the best programs in the state, this was unquestionably a "down year," and it caused many to forget about the Dragons coming into 2017.

After being overlooked, though, it appears the Dragons are dangerous once again.

“There’s a lot of things,” Sweet said of the turnaround. “We’ve fixed a lot of things this year on quick turnarounds and played better. Last year, at times there we didn’t play so well.”

Led by the goal scoring prowess of Bobby Maimaron, and the facilitating of Riley Bergstrom, Duxbury has also found a balance with its secondary scoring to balance out the strong defensive play.

“We need that,” Sweet said of the scoring being spread around. “It doesn’t matter if two or three players are scoring. If you face a good defense, they’re going to game plan for that. Other guys have to step up and they get that. Joe Gooley has been strong of late. The offense really starts with Maimaron though.”

The challenges just keep coming for Duxbury, who faces a week with contests against top ranked teams Cohasset and Lincoln-Sudbury, and a league game with Scituate.

“My job is to make sure they don’t overlook those teams,” Sweet said. “Scituate is a league game too, and you can’t overlook that, it’s always tough. It has to be one game at a time.”

So far? The Dragons have torched through nearly every test.

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