|Longmeadow's Clay Moseman fires a shot at St. John's goalie Matt Mongeau.|
SHREWSBURY - What started off as a very even game developed into a lobsided 8-3 victory for the Longmeadow Lancers over the St. John's Pioneers Wednesday at St. John's High School in Shrewsbury.
These teams are very familiar with each other, having faced off in the D2 Central/West semifinals in 2015 and the finals last year, with both games won by the Lancers. Longmeadow (15-3) again emerged victorious Wednesday, while St. John's (12-3) was left looking for an elusive victory in this meeting between the premier lacrosse programs in Western and Central Massachusetts.
St. John's Drew Kozub (2 goals) opened the scoring, but Longmeadow's Spencer Robbins (3 goals) responded a few minutes later. Clay Moseman (1 goal) added another before the end of the first quarter, and Spencer Robbins opened the scoring in the second quarter to push the Longmeadow lead to 3-1. Drew Kozub scored his second to bring the game within one, and right before the end of the half Brendan Rocco scooped a ground-ball and scored to tie the game. The game was locked at 3 at halftime, and was shaping up to be another thriller.
Spencer Robbins completed his hat trick early in the third quarter to give the Lancers a 4-3 lead, and they did not look back. In fact, Longmeadow held a normally explosive Pioneer offense scoreless in the second half. Goals from Noah Skole (2 goals), Will Quirk (1 goal), and Jack Barron (1 goal) contributed to the final tally of 8 goals for Longmeadow. A mix of resilient defense from the Lancers and poor possessions from the Pioneers left them empty handed for second half.
One major key in the Lancers' domination of the second half was Sam Byrne at the face-off.
"He's a man amongst boys," Longmeadow coach Keith Cambpell said of Byrne. "He not only won the face-offs but had some great transitions, and he ran the clock out when we needed it… When you have the ball, it's hard for the opponent to score."
Campbell also made sure to compliment the stingy defense that kept the SJ offense scoreless in the second half.
"Shutting them down in the second half was great, all credit goes to coach McDonald for that," Campbell said. "We rotated in and out of five different defenses, and that's the reason we had those fast breaks and were able to convert into goals."
For St. John's, the one shining star from the game was goalie Matt Mongeau. The senior recorded 10 saves and did everything he could to keep them in the game. Some adjustments for the Pioneer offense will be necessary for a possible playoff rematch, but their defense with Mongeau in net is poised to make a deep playoff run.
The win gives Longmeadow the inside track for the top seed in Division 2 Central/West, where a match up with St. John's in the championship is very possible.
"We have to get up for these games," junior Spencer Robbins said after the game. "For the past three years I've been here, we've always beat them. Every time we come here or they come to us, they want to beat us really bad. If we didn't play well today, they would have handed it to us."