No. 9 Walpole 8, No. 10 Wellesley 1
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WELLESLEY -- Bad news for any opponent of the Walpole boys' lacrosse team who is celebrating an upcoming birthday. The Rebels have a strict policy this spring: No gifts.
Not on the field, anyway. Goaltender Cameron Crown, a senior captain, said the Rebels operate with the mantra that nothing will come easy for an opponent this season. Poor Wellesley saw the policy in action during Wednesday's battle for Bay State Herget supremacy and Walpole offered little leniency.
The Raiders, who are averaging better than 10 goals per game in their nine wins this season, settled for a lone second-quarter tally as visiting Walpole checked, bumped, and thumped its way to a dominating 8-1 triumph at Hunnewell Field.
Walpole makes the turn to the back 9 of its 2008 schedule sitting atop the Herget standings with a perfect 9-0 mark (the best start in school history, according to coach Jason Andalo) and has already punched its postseason ticket.
What's more, the Rebels are playing well against quality opponents. Walpole has now won consecutive games over top 20 opponents, taking down Division 3 power Dover-Sherborn, 11-7, Saturday in Walpole.
"I didn't think our offense was quite as good as it was Saturday," said Andalo. "But our defense was better."
That might seem like an obvious statement, until you realize that there was a dominant 27-minute stretch in the Dover game in which Walpole limited those Raiders to just one goal.
The Rebels kept that sort of intensity up for a full 48 minutes Wednesday against this group of Raiders. While Walpole struggled early to connect on opportunities around the Wellesley net, it barely gave the hosts a chance to get near Crown.
The Raiders struggled mightily to simply clear the ball in the first half and, when they did get to the offensive end, Walpole's long-sticks looked liked they were playing whack-a-mole with the opposing ball-handler. Only there was no hole for the Wellesley players to hide from the onslaught and that led to a number of ground balls that the Rebels vaccumed up.
“Clearly they were more aggressive and that’s something I hope doesn’t happen every day,” said Wellesley first-year coach Rocky Batty. “That’s a nice team, they’re aggressive on defense and they’re aggressive on offense.”
Batty admitted he was surprised that his charges were unable to match the intensity of Walpole. Both teams seemed a bit over-caffeinated in the early going with passes sailing high and plenty of turnovers on both sides of the field.
But it was Walpole that settled in first, aided in part by nice individual efforts on goals from Brian Orecchio and Greg Nash to lead 2-0 after one quarter. The Rebels ultimately score the game's first four goals before Wellesley's Matt Geisinger broke up the shutout with a big rip from the top of the slot with less than a minute to play in the first half.
Beset by penalties (and often in series), Walpole calmly killed its infractions. Nursing a 5-1 lead entering the fourth quarter, Crown made a huge save at the right post with Wellesley in a man-up situation. Walpole took control, worked the ball around until the penalty expired, then watched Greg Nash score the first of consecutive goals to effectively seal the win.
Crown spread his praise around to those who kept his crease clear: Ryan Whittemore, Connor Whittemore, and Mike Connors. Considering the Rebels have allowed little more than three goals per game this season (28 goals in 9 games), he confidently opined that the Rebels feature one of the top defenses in the state.
After Wednesday, Wellesley could likely confirm.
We'll have video highlights in a bit.
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 winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
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