Xaverian 11, St. John's (Shrewsbury) 6
SHREWSBURY -- As Xaverian and St. John's of Shrewsbury combined for eight goals in little more than the first 10 minutes of regulation, it was hard to tell who was running more Thursday afternoon: the boy's lacrosse combatants or the host's outdoor track team that was practicing sprints on the rubber encircling Pioneer Field.
A wide-open, up-and-down first quarter gave way to a much more defensive-minded (and scoreless) second frame. Xaverian kept that defensive intensity cranked up in the second half, while St. John's couldn't match and the Hawks flew away with an 11-6 triumph in a nonleague battle.
Xaverian (2-0) erupted for five goals in both the first and third quarters with senior attack Brendan Grant registering a game-high six goals (he added two assists). Teammates Garrett Buckley and Chris Rigoli sandwiched scores around a Grant goal as part of a three-goal, third-quarter outburst that helped Xaverian stretch out its two-goal halftime advantage and carry a six-goal cushion into the final frame.
"I think you have to come out out of the half ready to go; ready to regain that momentum," said Xaverian coach Tim Gardner, who guided the Hawks to the Division 1 title game last year before falling to Duxbury in OT. "They did a good job of keeping us off rhythm in the second quarter and we needed to get that back."
But it was Xaverian's defense that ultimately changed the complexion of this game. Senior Sean Halloran shook off some early struggles and, aided by an active defense, held St. John's to a mere goal over a 33-minute stretch starting late in the first quarter.
Gardner praised his long-stick middies, including Robby Stack, Josh Chipman, and Kevin Blackmur, for picking up their play to quiet the high-octane offense of St. John's.
"All three of (St. John's) attack can hurt you and I think we created a lot of our own problems early on," said Gardner. "Our long poles did a good job out there and we started getting the right slides."
Xaverian graduated a large number of players in the offseason, but it has plenty of experience and talent on the field this spring. St. John's had no answer for Grant, who utilized his size to create havoc by both charging and distributing from behind the net.
Senior midfielder Ryan Abely dominated in the faceoff circle for the Hawks, particularly during the pivotal three-goal, third-quarter outburst, while Buckley, Rigoli, and James Vickery can all find the twine.
St. John's relied on Nick Yacuzzi, Nick Papoojian, and Colin O'Rourke to fuel its offense. The trio combined for five of the Pioneers' six goals.
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