Top-ranked Duxbury and sixth-ranked St. John's Prep asserted themselves as teams to beat Thursday with quality wins over highly touted competition. We break down today's battles (we'll have more on these games later, including video highlights):
No. 1 Duxbury 12, No. 7 Cohasset 5
COHASSET -- If the Duxbury boys' lacrosse team is looking for a theme song for the 2008 campaign, allow us to step off the beaten path and suggest the Guns N' Roses ballad, "Patience" from the 1988 album G N' R Lies.
After all, that's what coach Chris Sweet preached to his team Thursday afternoon and clearly good things came to those Dragons that waited.
Duxbury -- the defending Division 1 state champs -- watched Cohasset -- the defending Division 3 state champs -- rally within a pair of goals heading into the fourth quarter, but the visitors put together a dominant final frame to emerge with a 12-5 triumph at Alumni Field.
The Green Dragons didn't force anything on offense and, while it certainly gave the Cohasset offense fits at times, it wasn't overly aggressive in trying to take away the Skippers' high-octane scorers.
"I didn't think we let things get out of control," said Duxbury coach Chris Sweet. "We did a nice job possessing the ball and, obviously, we played good defense. They made a nice run in the third, forced a little momentum swing, but we just hung in there.
"We told our guys, 'It's four quarters; it's a marathon.' We wanted to see if we could wear them down... We're trying to be patient. Not trying to look for something that's not there. Sometimes you can get frustrated, push the ball when you shouldn't and that's where I thought we did a great job of being patient with the ball.
"They prevented us, for three quarters, of not going on a run. At the end there, we got on a little run and got some breathing room."
Scott Austin and Grant Marston struck for back-to-back goals less than a minute apart early in the fourth quarter to give the Dragons a more comfortable 8-4 advantage. Cohasset pulled one back, but Derek Sweet erupted for three consecutive scores over a 2:30 span to put the game away.
Derek Sweet finished with four goals, while Austin added three more. But it might have been more telling that Skipper snipers Mike Grimm and Mark Flibotte were kept quiet on the other side of the scoring ledger.
Duxbury's Craig Sullivan spearheaded a defensive effort that held Flibotte without a goal (while Grimm scored twice).
"Just like the offense, you have to be patient on defense," said coach Sweet. "We played good team defense. If you can do that, you can force the other team to make mistakes. And we capitalized on that."
Added Sullivan: "We knew they had two great scorers, but we really just tried to play our game. We knew we needed good team defense to win today."
Duxbury had enough talent to generate goals off individual efforts, but the Dragons really thrived with a man advantage, generating numerous goals in the man-up situation.
"They move the ball so well with the man advantage," said Cohasset coach Stew Curran. "They must have had seven goals in the man-up. That's our bugaboo. We need to stay out of the box, but some of the bigger boys, they get a bit exuberant with their sticks.
"We'll take a lot from this one. I thought we played them pretty well 6-on-6... I'd rather lose today, April 10, than on June 14."
- Click HERE to watch the Play of the Game
St. John's Prep took note of the low offensive outputs posted by BC High opponents this spring and wanted to break that trend Thursday. But a double-digit outburst was probably more than the kids from Danvers ever could have imagined.
Consider this on the heels of St. John's Prep's 11-6 triumph at James Cotter Field at Viola Stadium:
- The visitors scored nearly as many goals (11) as BC High's three other opponents this season had previously combined for (12).
- SJP struck for more goals in a 19-second, fourth-quarter blitz (3) than Chelmsford did (2) in 48 minutes against BC High on Monday.
- The last team to score double digits against BC High? Didn't happen at all last year. You'd have to go back to May 22, 2006, when Malden Catholic fell to BC High, 12-10, in two overtimes.
- The last team to score double digits against BC High in regulation? Crawl on back to April 15, 2006, when Fairfield (Conn.) Prep visited and emerged with a 15-10 triumph.
- The last Massachusetts team to score double digits against BC High in regulation? Jump in the way-back machine and travel to May 22, 2005, when host Duxbury emerged with a 15-2 triumph. BC High and coach Ulrich Alvarez finished 4-12 that year and gave up double digits in five different games.
So in an age when we don't blink when a lacrosse team puts up 10 or more goals, consider exactly what St. John's Prep accomplished Thursday.
The Danvers-based Eagles ripped open a close game by the seams as part of a five-goal, fourth-quarter eruption. The game ultimately turned when SJP punched in three goals in a mere 19-second span to take a 9-3 advantage with 9:26 to play in the game.
Will Duryea lit the fuse with a goal off a Kevin Lunnen feed. Griffin Cardew followed with an unassisted tally before Garrett Campbell punctuated the burst.
"It was all about team play," said St. John's Prep captain Mark Scalise. "I can't tell you who scored (on the outburst), but I'm pretty sure if you look at the book we spread the scoring around. That's what it's all about: Playing as a team."
Added coach John Roy: "We took note of the low scores they had been holding teams to. They've got a great defense and a great goalie (David Barton). We wanted to create some opportunities... get their goalie moving. We were able to win some faceoffs there and attack. A six-goal lead is a lot more comfortable than a three-goal lead."
The Prep boasted a 4-3 advantage coming out of halftime (rallying from an early 2-0 deficit). John Jennings struck for two goals in the first five minutes of the second half as SJP began to open some breathing room.
The first was a bit fluky as Barton made the initial save on a blast, but the ball caromed off the netminder and managed to hop into the twine just 1:23 into the third quarter. A short time later, Jennings dodged a defender outside the right post and ripped one into the twine for a 6-3 advantage.
BC High kept in striking distance into the fourth quarter before the big outburst essentially put the game out of reach. SJP led 11-4 with 4:02 to go before BC High pulled a pair back (finally showing some offensive rhythm late in the game).
"We came out and controlled the first quarter," said BC High coach Kevin Bibeau. "We were moving the ball and doing a lot of things well, but give credit to coach Roy, because they made some defensive adjustments."
SJP spread around the scoring with Jennings finishing with a game-high four goals, while Scalise potted the Prep's first three goals of the game.
Barton made a handful of oustanding stops to prevent the damage from being worse, while St. John's Prep netminder Tyler Cash did an outstanding job in the opposite cage. Cash uses his big frame to take up space in between the pipes, but the senior also moves well and has really shined since late in the 2007 season.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our fall correspondents:
- Anthony Gulizia | @gulizia_a | Div. 1 football
- Eric Russo | @erusso22 | Div. 2 football
- Stephen Sellner | @stephen_sellner | Div. 3 football
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Div. 4 football
- Greg Joyce | @GJoyce9 | Div. 5 football
- Lorenzo Recupero | @LorenzoRecupero | Div. 6 football
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls volleyball
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