No. 3 Billerica 15, Lowell 8
BILLERICA -- Who needs star power when you've got good coaching and plenty of depth?
Graduation raked some serious individual talent away from the Billerica boys' lacrosse team, but the Indians seem pretty happy with what's leftover this spring. Still working out the kinks in the early season, coach Chris Burns saw nine different players score Wednesday in a 15-8 triumph over Lowell in a Merrimack Valley Conference battle at Alumni Field.
Bill Frevold scored three times, while Grant Whiteway and Mike Slatton added two goals apiece to pace the Indians' parade of twine tappers. Billerica struck for eight of the game's first nine goals to build an early cushion, then weathered a Lowell intensity storm early in the second half before coasting to the finish.
"We're going to get better," said Burns, whose squad improved to 2-0. "We've seen a great deal of improvement from the preseason jamboree in Lexington until now. We still have a lot to work on, but we'll get there."
Lose a faceoff monster like All-Scholastic Gary McKay? No sweat. Adam Foss seems hellbent on winning that job, only he's no FOGO (face off, get off). Much of Billerica's offense goes through No. 20 and he's going to play a big role in how this team fares this spring.
Wave goodbye to a points collector like All-Scholastic Keith Merluzzo? No worries. The Indians feel confident regardless of who ends up with the ball around the cage (and Mike Hurley and Greg Melaugh are doing a phenomenal job feeding the ball to open slashers from behind the cage). "I guess you just kind of expect everyone on attack to finish," said Burns. "We certainly have guys who can score."
Bid adieu to a natural talent like Lanny Ellis? Guess you need the defense to pick up some slack. And that's exactly what this feisty bunch of defensemen in Tom Todd, Matt Langill, and Chris Phillion are doing in front of netminder Pat O'Loughlin. The unit got a bit complacent after Billerica built its early lead, but it still limited Lowell to only one goal over the first 22 minutes.
Lowell (3-1) rode the play of Matt Goyette and Greg Demetriou to claw its way bay into the game in the third quarter. The pair combined for three goals over the first five minutes of the second half to pull the Raiders within three, but Billerica kept its foe at arm's length.
After Lowell pulled within three for the first time, Billerica called a timeout and Frevold scored a blink of an eye after the ensuing faceoff. Lowell answered, but Frevold did the same with a goal outside the left post for an 11-7 advantage with 5:13 to go in the third quarter.
Hurley and Jeff Scarfo added tallies later in the frame as Billerica put the game in its rear-view mirror.
Goyette finished with a team-high four goals, while Demetriou added three as part of a fine effort in which he really dictated Lowell's play. Demetriou was able to create going towards the net and brought his team a spark when it needed it most.
But the day belonged to Billerica, which walks away happy to have a win, but eager to improve.
"We're just so fortunate to have good coaching here," said Burns. "We've got Nolan (Godfrey) working with the faceoff guys, we've got coaches working with the goaltenders and the defense. It makes it so much easier. And all these guys got time practicing with the varsity team last year, so that makes it easier.
"But we've still got work to do."
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Then there are our winter correspondents:
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- Colleen Casey | @ColleenCasey226 | Softball
- Mike Giesta | Boys lacrosse
- Catherine Calsolaro | @catrenee13 | Girls lacrosse
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Boys volleyball
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