MEDFIELD, Mass. - It took a little while for the Medfield boys lacrosse team to get going but once they did, there was no stopping them.
In an atypical preliminary round MIAA tournament matchup, the winners of the last Division 2 state championships squared off Tuesday at Medfield High School. At the end of a long, hot afternoon, it was the winner of the last two titles that will move on to try for another trophy.
Cal Given and Andrew Melvin each had three goals and an assist, Conor Roddy added goal and four assists and No. 6 Medfield used a 5-0 run in the third quarter to pull away from No. 27 Walpole for a 12-4 victory.
"It's always good to get started after Memorial Day," said Medfield coach Mike Douglas. "You're kind of out of you're routine and you play on that first Tuesday you try to get in a rhythm early in the game. I felt like we were getting shots all over the place but we weren't finishing and we weren't hitting the net. We kept talking to them, telling them to keep shooting. It's similar to basketball - if you keep putting shots up eventually they are going to start falling and they did."
Medfield (15-4) built a 3-1 lead at the half with two scores from Given and another from long-stick defender Ben Cox, while Bryan Rockwood had the lone tally for the Rebels (7-12). Walpole's sophomore goalie Andrew Blood played a major role in keeping the score close, making nine of 16 saves over the first two frames.
Then Medfield opened the third quarter with a goal from another defenseman, Tommy Conlon, and that seemed to be spark the team needed. Conlon set up Melvin for the Warriors next tally, then Roddy fed both Matt Crowell and Melvin to push their lead to 7-1.
"The defense kind of picked them up a little bit with Ben Cox scoring a goal and Tommy Conlon scoring a goal and getting an assist," praised Douglas. "That kind of picked the offense up, got the sideline going and got a little energy going. Obviously the offense wants to show them what they can do and why they're out there after that. I think the defense kind of carried us for a while there and the offense in the second half got some transition and some easy looks and that led to us getting into a rhythm and running our offense."
Walpole got two back on scores by Hunter Nemec and Seamus Ford, but with Medfield FOGO Clay Richard controlling the faceoff X, the Warriors reeled four of the last five to close it out.
ROUNDING INTO FORM
On April 18, Conor Roddy took a hard hit after scoring a goal against Duxbury that resulted in a concussion that forced him to miss several weeks of games. The senior was able to get back to action toward the end of the season and looks like he is getting back to the form that made him one of the most dangerous attackmen in the state over the past two seasons.
Roddy played the role of facilitator against Walpole with four assists as the Warriors looked to get him touches and let him distribute the ball to his teammates. He set up Given's first goal seconds after an extra-man opportunity had expired, then made a beautiful pass to get Given an easy one-timer for his second score. Then in the third, Roddy assisted on back to back goals by Crowell and Melvin.
"Being back with them is great," Roddy said. "I think Cal has like a 90 percent shooting percentage, he hits everything you give to him. Melvin too. He even dodged too. Its great because they take a lot of (pressure) off. Even when I dodge and get doubled, I know if I hit them they're usually always open. They find great places to go and they always finish. Cal's got a great shot, Andrew's got a great shot and they both know where to go which helps out a lot."
DEFENSE SPARKS THE OFFENSE
One thing the Warriors have always been able to do is play defense. One need look no further than about 90 minutes to the west to see how former Medfield standout Jake Smith is doing at the University of Massachusetts for proof of that.
But for whatever reason, there isn't same kind of buzz that normally surrounds the Medfield D this year. Certainly doesn't take more than a quick look at the field to see Ben Cox, Tommy Conlon, Reece Steever and Connor Davis causing turnovers and disrupting clears.
And of course on this day, getting involved in the offense. Cox had the only goal of the second quarter and Conlon had a goal and an assist to start the third. Those goals brought a needed energy to the Medfield sideline and and really jumpstarted the second half surge.
"I don't know where that came from," joked Conlon when asked about his goal. "I was looking to dish it to one of the attackmen but no one was picking me up. Earlier in the week I had scored a couple of goals so I just decided to just go for the net and it went in."
Added Cox on his own score, "I picked up a ground ball at the midline. I wanted to originally give it to an attackman and they knocked it down. There was a scrum in front and they thought I was going to go back to play D but I wanted a goal so I just tossed it in."