Mount St. Charles Academyâ€™s Matt Cummings (left) and Lincoln Highâ€™s Matt Hoey (14) pursue the ball during the second half of Thursday afternoonâ€™s game at the Mountiesâ€™ field. (photo by Ernest A. Brown)
WOONSOCKET â€” Before Mount St. Charles Academy faced Lincoln High in a Division II-North battle on Thursday afternoon, head coach Doug Allen asked his squad to be aggressive from the start, especially offensively, to set the tone.
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It was something the Mounties had failed to do in a 9-7 loss to Providence Country Day only 48 hours earlier.
â€śWe fell behind, 3-0, right away, and we had to work hard to battle back,â€ť Allen stated. â€śWe have a fast-break, running kind of team, and when we get a lead and we unleash the horses, weâ€™re all set. If we donâ€™t, then weâ€™re usually in for a tough game.â€ť
The Mounties did and didnâ€™t follow Allenâ€™s pre-match instructions. They produced a 4-1 cushion early in the second period, allowed the Lions to pull even at 4-4 just over a minute into the third but then tallied five unanswered goals to post a satisfying 10-5 victory at the lower campus field.
Senior attack Ben Handanyan led the charge with four goals, while classmate Drew Lambert added two. Freshman attack Teddie Fenton supplied a goal and four assists, with senior attack Nick Blair (goal), junior midfielder Keegan Oâ€™Leary (goal, assist), senior midfielder Chris Brown (goal) and sophomore â€śmiddieâ€ť Matt Cummings (goal) also helping out on the offensive end.
â€śHandanyan is one of, if not the best, attack in the state,â€ť Allen insisted after the contest, which pushed MSC to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league action. â€śHe scored five goals against (non-league foe) Smithfield last Friday, had four against PCD and then added four more here.
â€śThe thing is, because heâ€™s so good, other teams have to focus on him, but we have a lot of good players,â€ť he continued. â€śWhen theyâ€™re double- or triple-teaming him, that opens things up quite a bit. A perfect example is we had six other guys score goals.
â€śBen is smart enough to realize that when opponents are jumping on him, he needs to pass off, and that was a key against Lincoln â€¦ The difference (Thursday) from the PCD game was our clears. Weâ€™re much better when the goalie makes the save, we get the ball out and then we start running. Against a team like Lincoln, thatâ€™s just what you have to do.â€ť
The Mounties needed only 68 seconds to gain a 1-0 lead, Brown netting a mid-range shot past Lincoln senior goalie Tom Tower. However, with 7:24 left in the first stanza, officials called senior Connor McCarty for a one-minute unnecessary roughness penalty, and â€“ just 26 ticks later â€“ junior Geoff Cicatiello stood by his side, the result of a slashing infraction.
Despite that two-man disadvantage, Handanyan raced past the defense and mustered a pretty tally for the 2-0 lead.
Lincoln pulled within one when senior attack Conor Cronan scored a man-advantage goal with 2:05 left.
MSC registered two goals in the span of 26 seconds to snag the 4-1 cushion. With junior middie Jerzy Polak on the sidelines serving a 30-second penalty for holding, Handanyan manufactured a man-up goal with 9:19 remaining, then scored another at even strength at 8:53.
Undaunted, Lincoln battled back, Cronan posted a man-advantage tally at 7:05, and â€“ with only four seconds left before the break â€“ junior attack Drew Wood beat MSC junior Will Perry to slice the gap to 4-3.
The feisty Polak actually knotted the tilt at 4-4 when he drilled a grounder past Perry only 1:02 into the third period, but the Mounties regained the lead at 5-4 just 1:21 later after â€“ who else? â€“ Handanyan scored on a Fenton feed at 9:27.
Over the next 2:47, MSC rallied for three more to, in essence, put the game out of reach. Cummings made it 6-4 on an even-strength tally at 8:42; Lambert manufactured an unassisted goal at 7:30; and Blair took advantage of an outstanding pass from Fenton to notch his first at 6:40.
On the play, Fenton looped beyond the right post, fed Blair streaking toward the left post and the latter rifled it over Towerâ€™s right shoulder.
Fenton himself scored on an unassisted goal with 2:32 left for the 9-4 lead.
â€śLincoln plays a really good zone defense; they like to pack it in tight and make you shoot from 15 yards out,â€ť Allen explained. â€śI donâ€™t know what I said at halftime, but it must have worked. The key was we started running, and it didnâ€™t allow them time to set up that zone.
â€śThey like a nice, close game because theyâ€™re a solid, big defense,â€ť he added. â€śI know a lot of those guys because I live in Lincoln, and even coached some of them in Little League and other sports. The thing about Lincoln is a lot of those guys arenâ€™t exposed to lacrosse until theyâ€™re freshmen, and a lot of our kids are playing in youth lacrosse leagues, so they have some experience when they get here.
â€śIt helps us skill-wise, and that background in the sport dictates that weâ€™ll make less mistakes than they will.â€ť
Junior attack Ryan Krohto pulled the Lions to within four with a goal at 5:21, but Oâ€™Leary scored on a Cronan pass with 3:18 left to seal the triumph.
â€śIt was a really hard-fought game, and you could tell both teams wanted it badly,â€ť admitted Lincoln coach Patrick Hanley, whose club dropped to 0-2. â€śMountâ€™s offense did a great job of moving the ball, and they had great movement as well. They played good, clean lacrosse.â€ť
When asked if his team committed too many turnovers, Hanley smiled and said, â€śWell, yeah. Thatâ€™s definitely we need to improve upon, so weâ€™ll go back to work on that, and other things, tomorrow.â€ť
The Mounties outshot Lincoln by a 28-15 count, and Perry mustered 10 saves in the win. Tower finished with 18.
â€ś(Sophomore) Rob Guyon got the game ball, and itâ€™s because he was so solid on defense,â€ť Allen stated. â€śHe just shot down that team, including Polak, whoâ€™s an aggressive kid. Rob was only a freshman last year, but he started, and heâ€™s probably grown over four inches since then, so heâ€™s not a tiny defender anymore. You just canâ€™t run through him.
â€śAnd Will, he used to be a defender, but our goalie graduated last (June), and we asked Will if he wanted to move. He went to a couple of camps, learned the skills and heâ€™s been super so far.â€ť