Thursday, May 24, 2018

RECAP & PHOTOS: St. John's (Shrewsbury) Pulls Away from Grafton

Story by Andrew Bowman (@andrew_bowman5)

Photos by Ryan Bowman (@_ryanbowman_)

Ed. Note- Scroll down for a full photo gallery from the game, and note that you can click any image to enlarge and launch a slideshow.

Grafton, Mass. - Grafton High School hosted one of the best lacrosse rivalries in Central Mass, with the Indians welcoming regional power St. John's (Shrewsbury).

It would be the visiting Pioneers who would emerge victorious, defeating the Indians 10-4.

St. John's came out of the gates firing, outscoring Grafton 4-0 in the first quarter. Sophomore attack Owen Boss, who finished with a career-high four goals, scored a pair in under a minute. Meanwhile, juniors Charlie Davidson and Colin Deso netted goals just 10 seconds apart in the closing moments of the period.

That Pioneer dominance would continue into the second. Davidson, who finished with a hat trick, added two more for St. John's, while Boss scored another. Grafton sophomore Jack Gurney broke the ice for the Indians, but St. John's carried an impressive 7-1 advantage into halftime.

St. John's didn't slow down after intermission. Boss scored his fourth, followed by a goal from senior Jack Donahue, who also dished out three assists on the night. Deso added his second goal of the game to start the fourth quarter and push the game even farther out of reach.

"We liked our matchups and we took advantage," St. John's coach Justin O'Leary said. "Offensively, we were clicking on a lot of levels. We wanted to execute out of situations instead of shoot our way out of situations, which we did."

Grafton did find the back of the net three times in the second half, however, with Gurney scoring again, along with Tyler Hart and Steve Rotatori. Senior goalie Matt Nicalek had a solid day between the pipes, stopping 10 Pioneer shots.

Although the St. John's offense was excellent, the Pioneer defense also shined. Senior goalie Cam Hearn had one of the best games of his career, finishing with a dozen saves, and his effort did not go unnoticed.

"The biggest thing for us tonight was Cam Hearn, who played out of his mind," coach O'Leary said. "I thought we did a nice job of riding tonight and being aggressive, which payed off in the long run."

"(Hearn) played an incredible game," Grafton coach Alan Rotatori said. "You could tell his team was riding that play, and a hot goalie can take a team a long way."

With the playoffs looming, both teams feel good about their chances in their respective sections. St. John's has already qualified for the Division 2 Central/West tournament, and Grafton has qualified for postseason play as well, as the Indians are attempting to win a fourth consecutive Division 3 Central/West crown.

"Our offense was getting the looks we needed, just not finishing," Rotatori said of his team's effort against St. John's. "It was a high-pressure game against a big, athletic team, and we need to know how to deal with that."

"There is always room for improvement, but we are headed in the right direction," O'Leary said of the Pioneers. "The big things for us are the little things, which win the game. Everybody knowing their job, and more importantly, doing their job. But, we have to stay out of the penalty box, because that can hurt us."

St. John's will look to continue its winning ways with two massive out of region tilts against Hopkinton and Minnechaug, while Grafton will look to bounce back against league foes Tantasqua and Auburn.

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