No. 1 Duxbury 7, No. 4 St. John's Prep 5
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DUXBURY -- Some will tell you a goal is a goal in lacrosse regardless of the time on the scoreboard. But Scott Austin's goal late in the third quarter of Saturday night's blockbuster between top-ranked Duxbury and fourth-ranked St. John's Prep definitely came with a little something extra.
Austin potted his second goal of the third quarter with only three seconds remaining in the frame and it appeared all of St. John's Prep's momentum followed the ball into the twine. The Eagles, who hadn't trailed through three quarters, were forced to enter the final frame with the score knotted for the fourth time on the night.
Austin fed Jake Harvey for a go-ahead goal that put Duxbury out front for the first time little more than three minutes into the final frame and the Dragons never relinquished their lone lead while emerging with a 7-5 triumph under the lights at cold and soggy Raymond P. Chandler Field.
"Lacrosse is a game of real momentum swings," said Duxbury coach Chris Sweet, whose charges protected their in-state, 79-game winning streak despite one of its biggest challenges of the 2008 season.
"(Scoring with three seconds left in the third quarter), that was a big one right here. If I were them, I would say that was the turning point. Certainly, in a game where every ground ball counted, every goal counted, every save counted, it's all the little things. We probably made fewer mistakes than they did and that's the biggest difference."
St. John's Prep coach John Roy echoed those sentiments.
"It's a game of momentum," he said. "Scoring the goal with three seconds left for them was big, and it was an unsettled situation. They're very fast and they move the ball well. It's difficult, their defense plays so well, so once you find yourself behind, you just hate to be behind."
Winning the opening draw of the fourth quarter, as well as the one following Harvey's go-ahead goal, Duxbury managed to control possession for much of the final frame and Derek Sweet scored with 4:54 to go to put the Dragons on top by the final spread.
St. John's Prep had its chances late, but Duxbury's long poles -- led by always-active All-Scholastic Craig Sullivan -- never let the Eagles generate a quality scoring chance. As soon as the ball hit the ground, the Dragons were there to make so much as winning a ground ball seem like a Herculean effort.
St. John's Prep's John Jennings paced his squad with four goals, including three in the first half where the Eagles opened the only other two-goal lead of the game with a 4-2 advantage with 2:33 to play in the half.
But, in typical Duxbury fashion, the Dragons didn't wait long to respond. They won the faceoff after Prep had taken its multi-goal lead and Quinn Cully fed Harvey for a score just 10 seconds later to make it 4-3 at the intermission.
Jennings scored with 3:01 to play in the third quarter, but Austin added the back-breaker with a mere three ticks to go as Duxbury ripped away all the momentum heading to the final frame.
If Lynyrd Skynyrd had been in attendance, the band would have renamed their hit song, "Gimme Three Seconds" and the chorus would have ended, "Gimme three seconds mister, and you'll never see me no more." Duxbury refused to let Prep back into the game after taking the lead.
Both netminders were outstanding, particularly St. John's Prep's Nick Valenti, who was the difference in keeping the Eagles out front early with some terrific stops. Valenti also made a brilliant 1-on-1 save with just about a minute to go to keep St. John's Prep's hopes alive.
But Duxbury goaltender Makar Zaverucha and his stingy defense prevented any rally, clearing the ball from the offensive end whenever Prep tried to attack.
Oh, and when the Dragons were trailing, coach Chris Sweet didn't hesitate to bring up the in-state winning streak as a little added motivation for his troops.
"We'll do whatever it takes to get these kids revved up," admitted Sweet. "Every team we play is going to bring their best game. We're lucky to play in that sort of playoff atmosphere every game."
Both teams emerge with matching 10-2 records. Duxbury dropped two games during its road trip through New York over April Vacation, but withstood challenges this week from Billerica and the Prep (while also trouncing Scituate). The Eagles must regroup with big Catholic Conference matchups on tap against BC High (May 6) and Xaverian (May12) in their next two games.
"An old coach of mine said there's no such thing as a moral victory," said Roy. "There's things we can take from this game. We started and ended at 100 percent and that's all you can ask of your team."
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