WESTWOOD, Mass. – As Catholic Conference rivals BC High and Xaverian traded goals like dueling banjos through three quarters of Tuesday’s game, you could find a parallel for this season. With four teams in the initial ESPN Boston MIAA Top 25 poll, the conference figures to be among the state’s most competitive and deep this season.
But through the first couple of week of the season, as in Tuesday’s action, the No. 8 Hawks have emerged from the pack.
Xaverian ran its league record to 3-0 in the early going with a 9-7 win over the No. 11 Eagles at the Hawk Bowl.
“Being three-and-oh in the conference means everything to us right now,” Hawks head coach Tim Gardner said. “You have to treat every one of these league games as championship game.”
Xaverian attackman Jake Cox paced the Hawks (3-1, 3-0) with a four-goal performance.
The Hawks trailed 5-4 at the half, but tied it heading into the fourth on Cox’s third of the game. Xaverian pole Chris Ciolfi gathered a ground ball near midfield and went the distance, regaining the lead for the Hawks with 9:42 to play.
BC High (1-2) again responded about two minutes with a goal from Billy Breen.
But the Hawks retained the lead for good a minute later with Harry Walsh’s rip from about 15 yards out. Ryan McClellan added another less than a minute later for a two-goal cushion.
Alex O’Brien claimed BC High’s seventh tally, but the Eagles were shut out down the stretch as the Hawks saved their most effective possession effort of the game for its most critical stage.
Cox added his fourth of the game — on the man-up — during the final minute.
“Our weakness today is that we didn’t possess the ball as much as we should have in the second half,” Eagles head coach Tim Kelly said. “We played a lot of defense and, if you give a team like Xaverian those chances, they’re going to put the ball away.”
SHIFT AND A SLIDE
Gardner wasn’t overly pleased with the Hawks offensive effort – citing too many unforced errors against the Eagles. However, Xaverian was able to cash in during crunch time in the face of a staunch BC High defense led by Duke commit Ian Yanulis.
“It’s all ball movement,” Gardner said. “But when you have unforced errors, it takes you out of your momentum. It’s hard to running against the guys that they have. It’s a good defense and a solid scheme. You just have to move the ball quicker. When we were able to keep possession, we were able to work for good shots.”
FAR FROM OVER
While the Hawks are perched atop the conference standings in the early going, Kelly – a longtime BC High assistant in his first year as head coach – believes the race is far from over.
“You know they’re always going to be tight, I’ve been around it enough to see it. We lost in overtime to [Catholic Memorial], we lose by two here. Three-and-oh is a lot of breathing room early in the season, but it’s a long way.
“You know things are going to tighten up because we play each other so well and so often.”