SUDBURY, Mass. -- One of the worst-kept secrets throughout the regular season has been Lincoln-Sudbury's struggles at the faceoff X. Game after game, the Warriors would have to rely on its athletic defense to hold the fort in order to get possessions back for the offense.
Despite being able to survive such a glaring deficiency for much of the year, L-S coach Brian Vona has been outspoken on the point that, if his team was going to make a postseason run, the faceoff game would have to improve.
If you look closely at the t-shirts sticking out from under the fourth-seeded Warriors (16-5) game jerseys, you'll see the word 'wematin.' Wematin is a Native American term that stands for 'brother.' For our purposes, 'brotherhood' may be the more appropriate usage, as one of the Warriors own has come back to help out, and the results have been a smashing success in Lincoln-Sudbury's first two playoff victories.
"Two words - Trevor Shorb," Vona stated after watching his team eliminate fifth-seed Billerica (16-6) from the tournament with an 11-4 victory Wednesday afternoon.
THE BROTHERHOOD DRAWS FROM THE PAST
Shorb is a 2010 graduate of Lincoln-Sudbury and just wrapped up his sophomore year at Colby College, where had 12 points and won 12-of-21 faceoffs as a reserve midfielder. Shorb was also the lynch-pin of the Warriors dynamic offense in 2010, serving as one of the state's elite faceoff men for what was a dynamic and exciting offense.
Since finishing the spring semester, Shorb and a collection of L-S alumni have come back to town to lend a helping hand to this year's squad. Shorb has been working with the faceoff guys - sophomore long-stick defender John Sexton leads a group of five players who take draws - on technique and and giving tips on how to improve.
After losing a vast majority of draws during the year, the Warriors are up to break-even or better in the tournament and are continuing to improve.
"My alumni guys are the best, they come back and help us all the time," Vona explained. "Trevor's watching video for us, he's telling us how to counter moves. He's a great kid. And our faceoff guys are working hard too. We only had to run two of them today but we're prepared to run five guys."
EXTRA POSSESSIONS + A GIFTED OFFENSE = TWO PLAYOFF WINS
The Warriors only had to use two against Billerica, and with a collection of skilled and athletic offensive players ready to run, the extra possessions have been a huge key to the team's third semifinal appearance in the last four years.
Dan Delaney and Henry Guild each had hat tricks but L-S had seven goal-scorers in all against the Indians. The confident offensive unit is clicking at such a high level and the execution has been near flawless, the result of a season's worth of coaching and repetition.
But it has been the success on draws, as well as the efforts of the wing players flying in to scoop those precious ground balls, that has made the biggest impact of late.
"It's something we've been working on in practice all week. Time of possession is huge in these games, Delaney said. "Whoever has the ball most obviously can score. Our faceoff guys have been working their tails off all week. Before practice, after practice just getting after each other and we've started to win some faceoffs, which has obviously helped us with possessions."
Added Guild, "We've got a couple older players like Trevor Shorb that came back and gave our faceoff guys a bunch of drills to do. They've been coming out before practice and working on getting quicker hands facing off against each other. John Sexton did exceptional today and he's a big part of that. The first time we played Billerica we won two maybe three but now we're winning 50 percent or right around there."