Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Westfield Lacrosse Holds Off St. John's (Shrewsbury) to Reach D2 C/W Final

By Nick Beaudoin (@beaudoin91_)

SHREWSBURY - Today’s D2 Central/West semifinal matchup up was a thriller between the Pioneers of St. John’s (Shrewsbury) and the Bombers of Westfield. In the end, it was the Bombers who prevailed, 8-7, after battling off a late rally from the Pioneers.

The storylines from this game were ground ball battles and timely calls from the officials, and Westfield seemed to benefit from both.

The Bombers were able to gain much of their momentum in the second quarter from penalties on the St. John’s defense.

The second quarter was pivotal for the Bombers, as they were able to build off a 2-2 tie to go into intermission up 5 with a score of 7-2. The Pioneer’s senior goaltender and captain Matt Mongeau wasn’t getting a lot of help defensively, and the Pioneers' slides were late on most goals.

On top of that, seniors Will Gentle and Mitchell Weiss of Westfield, as well as junior Max Maggipinto seemed to be unstoppable for Westfield. I wouldn’t be surprised to continue hearing their names moving forward in this tournament.

Halftime was a much-needed break for both clubs, as the sun was blazing down on Pioneer field with an already high temperature of 75 degrees.

Dawson Ritchie opened the scoring for the Pioneers after the break and it was needed. Possession was key for St. John’s as the game progressed and this led to a nice goal from captain Drew Kozub to cut the Bombers lead to just 3.

After Will Gentle added his second of the game, it seemed like St. John’s and head coach Justin O’Leary were on a mission. After a time out, it was all St. John’s. Kozub added his second of the game while Brendan Rocco added a beautiful goal of his own to cut the lead to 8-6. Another case of senior leadership here in the 2017 tournament came true as Vaughn Wahlberg scored a huge goal with just over 5 minutes to go in the game and the Pioneers trailed by just one. Westfield looked dead and their poles were late on slides and having trouble winning one on one battles versus the crafty attack from St. John’s.

However, after a turn over from Dawson Ritchie under two minutes left in the game, Westfield was able to hang on and upset the number two seeded Pioneers. A team that plays with a lot of guts, wins ground ball battles, and doesn’t miss the net, the Bombers will next face top-seeded Longmeadow in the sectional final.

This loss for the Pioneers capped an end to a tremendous season, and one that had 15 seniors on the roster. They will, however, return next year with a retooled and new look team, as they do year in and year out.

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