They were considered Duxbury’s toughest competition in the march toward their ninth State title in 11 years. But after the Dragons’ 18-6 blowout of Lincoln-Sudbury on Saturday afternoon, it’s now up to Coach Chris Sweet’s team to show on Wednesday night that there really isn’t any team in Massachusetts that can compete with this year’s Duxbury squad.
Riding the hat-tricks of seniors Cam Mullins and Seamus Connelly, along with a trio of goals from junior Henry Narlee, the Dragons jumped out to a 4-3 first-quarter lead and blew the game wide open in the second quarter while on their way to victory.
While the 2012 lacrosse team has been noted for its defense, it was the offense that took center stage with nine different players scoring, while holding the Warriors to just six goals. The defense was equally as effective, as No. 4 seeded Lincoln-Sudbury had been averaging 11 goals a game during the playoffs and was held scoreless in the second quarter and trailed 8-3 at halftime.
“I’m surprised it took this long to get that type of distribution on our team.” said Sweet. “We have more guys on our bench who have the ability to do that type of scoring in a game like this. They are just waiting for their turns. It’s not a surprise. I’m just glad it happened today.”
The Warriors had surprising success in winning face-offs in the first quarter, but despite their repeated possessions their only lead of the game lasted a minute, as the Dragon defense of Max Randle, Matt O’Keefe, Reilly Naton, James Burke, and Jay McDermott kept them in check.
The Dragons are notorious for allowing their opponents to open the scoring. But on this occasion, the defense was determined to change that bad habit, as they caused an L/S turnover that allowed Naton to race up field with the ball and feed Connelly, who promptly found Will Siefert for the opening score.
The visitors would score twice in a span of 36 seconds (Colby Hall and Dan Delaney) for a 2-1 lead, but Mullins scored the first of his three goals when he beat his L/S defender and then goaltender Dan Shaughnessy to tie the game at two.
“Seniors always get it done this time of year and he’s a senior,” said Coach Sweet. “It’s no surprise. He’s one of the hardest workers on our team, if not the hardest worker. I’m happy for Cam that he could cap off his last game on this field with his hat-trick. Today was his day to score.”
Paul Hellar would score an unassisted goal to give Duxbury the lead for good at 3-2. But a huge save by Henry Buonagurio would keep the Dragons ahead, leading Mullins to his second goal of the game and a 4-2 lead with 2:54 left in the quarter.
Rarely did the Warriors have an easy time getting shots off until 1:40 remained and Matt Hall was all alone in front of the Duxbury net for an easy score that narrowed the margin to a goal.
L/S began the second quarter by hitting the post, leading to a fast-break transition goal started by Chris Williams and finished off by Siefert with an assist to Narlee.
Play got sloppy on both sides over the next four minutes until Sam Sweet spotted Jon Gomer, who fired a low shot from the right side past Shaughnessy to give Duxbury a 6-3 cushion.
The Duxbury defense continued its stellar work, as the Warriors remained scoreless in the second quarter, prompting Vona to call another timeout in hopes of getting one past Buonagurio. The move backfired, as Andrew Buron picked up a loose ball in the L/S end and took it downfield, feeding Sweet for a 7-3 lead with 51 seconds left in the half.
Despite the comfortable margin the Dragons were not content to sit on the ball. After gaining possession again on a Warrior turnover, a Duxbury shot went out of bounds into the corner with eight seconds to go. With the sound of the whistle, Hellar came rushing out of the corner toward the net and beat Shaughnessy with a shot for a commanding 8-3 lead with two seconds left in the half.
“We have a lot of seniors on this team and they understood very clearly that this was going to be their last game on this field,” said Sweet. “Regardless of what the score was they were going to make the most of it.”
Lacrosse is a game of possession and Narlee made sure his team had the ball for most of the third quarter. Forgetting about the problems he had in the first half, Narlee responded by winning the first eight face-offs of the second half and scoring three of Duxbury’s seven goals in taking a 15-5 lead with 12 minutes remaining.
It would be running time (12-goal lead) for most of the fourth quarter when Williams and Connelly scored for a 17-5 lead in the first three minutes.
L/S would score two more times after Connelly’s third. But it could do little to overcome the Dragons’ 30-shot onslaught that produced their eleventh trip to the finals.
Williams, Hellar, and Siefert also had multiple goal games for Duxbury with two each, while Sweet, Buron, and Gomer also got on the scoreboard.
“The guys on the field got it done today. We made very few mistakes,” said Duxbury coach Chris Sweet. “From day one we’ve talked about that we’re going to come out every day and work in order to get better each day and I think today was the vindication of just that. But as well as we played today, we still have to stay focused. We’ve got one more game to go. We’re certainly going to enjoy it for a little while but we’re going to get right back to work so we’re ready for Wednesday night.”
The Dragons will now take on No. 6 seed Needham (16-5) in the final game of a tripleheader scheduled to start at 7:45 at Harvard Stadium on Wednesday night.