Monday, May 22, 2017

Grafton Scores Senior Night Win Against Wachusett

By Connor Evans (@RonnocEvans)

GRAFTON - In a game with tournament (seeding) implications, both the Grafton Indians and Wachusett Mountaineers came in with something to play for. The game ended a little lopsided on the scoreboard, as the Indians turned a 7-4 halftime lead into a 16-9 victory.

With the win tonight, coupled with a Mt. Greylock loss out West to Pope Francis, Grafton all but locks up the top seed in the D3 Central/West Bracket.

Here are some takeaways from the Indians' big win.

The Breakdown

The game started tight, with Grafton leading 3-1 at the end of the first quarter. Then both teams went back and forth on three straight goals.

Sitting at 6-4 with mere seconds left in the first half, Grafton picked up a loose ball and, with everyone out of position, Anthony D’Angelo finds LSM Alec Cosseboom, who threw his whole body into the shot that put Grafton up 7-4 going into intermission.

Coming out of the half, Wachusett pulled within two again, but the Indians then rattled off 4 consecutive goals of their own. By the end of the third, Grafton led 13-6. Despite some real hustle from Wachusett on both sides of the ball, Grafton just seemed to be in control of the tempo of the game. Despite some highlight-reel quality plays from the Mountaineers, they weren’t able to build up momentum on this elite Grafton team.

Takeaway for Wachusett

Despite a lopsided final score, I have to say, the Mountaineers were impressive. They have some real athleticism on this team. From a big, physical defense to some quick, excellent shooters on offense, I can see this team faring well in their D2 bracket, even if their record may not grant them a high seed. I was really impressed by the offensive vision and skill as well as the defensive toughness.

Grafton Captain Brendan Coates was highly complementary as well.

“That’s a great defensive team," Coates said. "(Wachusett is) well coached. They had all the right slides and we just had to keep finding back door looks.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the slick conditions led a few errant passes out of bounds for the Mountaineers. Turnovers really hurt you when you play an up-tempo, yet patient team like Grafton. As far as finding the back of the net, it didn’t seem that Wachusett was having too much trouble shooting. The tough part was getting the possessions into the offensive end. Grafton was relentless between the boxes. Overall, tough loss, but not a bad showing from a team that I expect to see only better from the rest of the way.

Takeaway for Grafton

Great win for the Indians.

Grafton really showed up to a game they NEEDED to win in order to clinch the one seed for the first time in program history. Nothing is set in stone of course, but it looks like where they’re headed.

Coach Rotatori was very proud of his team’s showing in the game. Grafton had 8 different players put one in tonight, including two players with hat-tricks (Brendan Coates 5G, Jack Gurney 3G).

“We had many contributors. They know how to share the ball," Rotatori said.

"We don’t have a big standout guy, but we kind of like that," Coates added. "Our offense is well balanced. At any given moment, anyone out there can dodge and score.”

Grafton’s depth is probably it’s most lethal weapon this year. Every middie plays offense and defense. Every player on the field can shoot (yeah, long poles included, see Alec Cosseboom). Every guy on this Grafton roster is a real threat.

It will be fun to see how teams game plan for the Indians. From dominating the faceoff X, to firing from all areas on offense, to playing fundamentally sound defense, this team looks primed for another deep playoff run. Grafton is familiar with the District Tournament and have made it to the Central/West championship 5 consecutive years.

Naturally, this year’s senior class, which has lost in back-to-back state championships, will be looking for nothing less than a title. When I asked Coach Rotatori what he was saying to his team heading into playoffs, he replied with a saying he has always used with his players: “Success is where opportunity meets preparation... And sometimes a little luck mixed in helps.”

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