Friday, June 15, 2018

Reading Rallies for D2 North Title vs Rival Winchester

By Michael Abelson (@ABELS0N)

Woburn, Mass. - It was as good a game as you’d expect between Middlesex League rivals Reading and Winchester.

A back-and-forth game saw the Rockets give up five goals in a 3:37 span in the first quarter, but chipping away and eventually notching a 10-7 win over the Sachems for the Division 2 North crown.

Once the Rockets got their bearings offensively, the dynamic duo of Michael Tobin and Jack Geiger took over. Tobin had four goals, including a natural hat trick in the second quarter, while Geiger had a hat trick himself. Jack Stanton added a pair in the fourth quarter.

All of Reading’s goals came off of dodges and without an assist.

“We’ve been playing since second grade so we got unmatched chemistry,” Tobin said of Geiger. “We know where each other’s going to be. I love playing with him.”

Reading closed the gap to 5-2 after a quarter and 6-5 at halftime. Geiger’s goal at the horn ending the third quarter gave the Rockets the lead for good.

Winchester exploded early thanks to its play in transition. The Sachems got moving and made Reading pay. Five players scored during the Sachems’ early run. Grant Murray was the lone Sachem with two goals.

Murray’s second goal came 1:52 into the second quarter. Winchester did not score again until there was 11 seconds left in the game, a stretch of 33:57.

“We were shell shocked,” Reading assistant coach, and defensive coordinator, Tom Eighmey said. “I think we came out with some big-game jitters where you kind of lose your lungs and lose the ability to run up and down. They scored three of their first five in transition. We came in with a game plan to put kids on their weak hands and play some zone. All credit in the world goes to the guys on the field. There was a three-minute possession in the third quarter where the guys held strong.”

The Rockets mixed and matched their defense to keep Winchester off balance. When the Sachems did get through, sophomore goalie Charlie Giuliotti was there, standing on his head if needed.

Giuliotti made 14 saves, including nine in a row, to keep Winchester at bay while the Rockets made their comeback.

“Throughout the season, the progression that Charlie has made has been fun to watch,” Eighmey said. “He’s a kid that works hard, takes every pointer he can get. He’s a learner and has a tremendous ethic. He just wants to succeed.”

Winchester outshot Reading 34-20, and won both the faceoff and ground ball battles. Despite the advantages, it wasn’t the Sachems’ night.

“We played well enough to get the shots,” Winchester coach John Pirani said. “We didn’t play well enough to sink them.”

The win sends Reading to Tuesday’s semifinal against South section champ Scituate in Peabody. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since Reading’s 7-6, triple overtime victory in the 2011 state tournament.

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