Friday, May 12, 2017

Reading Tops Winchester For Middlesex Liberty League Title

Mike Tobin went down in the third quarter, but came back strong in a clutch performance

By Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7)
READING, Mass. – As multi-sport athletes, brothers Kevin and Mike Tobin bring a sense of toughness to Reading Lacrosse that seems to come naturally. 

During a conference tilt against rival Winchester on Friday the Tobins demonstrated that toughness in spades, while leading the Rockets to a 13-8 home victory and a Middlesex Liberty League title. 

Once again, Reading (11-3) was led in scoring by Mike Tobin (5 goals, 2 assists). The sophomore has been on a tear lately, but suffered a scary shoulder injury during a third-quarter scrum that forced him out of the game temporarily. 

“It happens pretty often, but I just fought through it because I wanted to win the game bad,” Mike said. 

When Tobin was injured, Reading held an 8-5 advantage, but that lead slowly evaporated. 

Winchester (8-6) senior cocaptains Brennan Clarke (two goals, three assists) and Jack Keane (two goals, two assists) led the Sachems back and a highlight goal from Keane made it 9-8 Reading with just over five minutes to play, putting the pressure on the host Rockets.

That's when Kevin Tobin (four assists) found his younger brother open on the wing, and Mike reared back for a rocket of a shot despite the intense pain in his shoulder and beat Winchester goalie Matt Suffrandi (13 saves) for a huge insurance goal.

“I knew it was going to hurt, but I didn’t care. It was worth it,” Mike added.

“That’s how he is,” Reading head coach Charlie Hardy said of the sophomore attack. “He’s a hockey player, a really tough kid, and he plays tough all the time. He’s one of the best riders I’ve ever seen and he really makes a difference. When Kevin [Tobin] or Jack [Geiger] get double teamed, the defense gets burnt by [Mike].”

After Mike’s goal put Reading up 10-8, Kevin’s toughness was put on display. The senior dodged and bulled his way through double teams all afternoon and set up two more goals in the final minutes, allowing the Rockets to win going away. 

Reading emerged victorious in another nail-biter and the Rockets have earned three one-goal wins this season, but they also lost three very close contests, including a 9-8 decision at Acton-Boxborough last Saturday.

“We’re learning from every game because we’ve lost a couple of close ones,” said Reading coach Charlie Hardy. “We’ve learned how to lose, and now we’re learning how to win, which takes maturity.”

For the players, it’s all about using those narrow losses as motivation. 

“We’re definitely learning from it,” Mike added. “When we came back from that A-B loss we had the best practice of the year, we’re going to keep fighting through it and get better until the playoffs start.”

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