WESTFORD, Mass. -- Test the slide, find the open man and react.
Westford Academy coach Matt Tholander may prep his team the same way for every opponent, but his players certainly knew how to attack Weston's zone defense on Thursday.
Driven by leading scorers Jay Drapeau and Alex Eaton, the host No. 11 Grey Ghosts (9-2) dominated scoring opportunities as they handed Dual County League foe No. 12 Weston its first loss of the season, 10-3.
“We are trying to initiate contact from behind or from the end alley where we try to get the adjacent defender to step to the ball,” Tholander said. “We send clear cutters through and we get a good look. The zone slowed us down a little bit, but we have good finishers on this team.”
Westford not only controlled the ball, but had 23 shots-on-goal to Weston's six.
Sophomore Jay Drapeau fronted the Grey Ghosts scoring effort with five goals and an assist, while teammate senior Alex Eaton buried three tallies and assisted a pair.
The two accounted for Westford's first six points as the Grey and Maroon jumped out to a 7-1 lead early in third quarter and never faltered.
“We draw the guy and dish it (to) find the open (man) in the slot,” said Drapeau. “The goalie was a leftie so we worked a lot on opposite shots.”
With eight man-up chances to Weston's four, Westford capitalized on three of its advantages including its first two goals. After Eaton and Wildcats senior Matt Martin traded 15-yard rips in the first two minutes, the Grey Ghosts senior used his scoring threat to draw the defense out from the side of the net for an open score by Drapeau and a 2-1 lead at 8:27 in the first.
After another goal from each in the initial period, Eaton ripped a side-arm effort off the wrist of Wildcats senior keeper Jared Fong late in the second quarter to enter the half up 5-1.
“We were hitting the skip passes,” Eaton said. “I am looking for the double team then I am looking for that dump right on the crease so we can get an easy shot.”
A no-look turnaround score by Drapeau and a unassisted effort off a missed slide by senior Pat Houghton put Westford up 7-1 a minute and a half into the second half. Weston responded with its final two goals from junior Jordan Fong and freshman Jay Messina.
Fong tested a zone defensive look with an open underhand goal at 8:05 in the third, while Messina slide behind a pair of defenders for a one-on-one with the keeper two minutes later.
“We wanted to slow the game down a bit because we know they are a very explosive offense,” Weston head coach Jim Wilcon said. “If we got the ball in and were able to settle it, we wanted to find the mismatch.”
A wide open counterattack finish by Grey Ghosts sophomore Ryan Hesseltine late in the third and a pair of fourth-quarter tallies from Drapeau helped Westford put away its small conference counterparts.
Jared Fong had 13 saves, while Grey Ghosts sophomore Peter Hargrave made five.