MEDFIELD, Mass. -- While his teammates searched for the necessary adjustments on defense and any sort of continuity on offense, Duxbury goalie Nick Marrocco produced a second consecutive game-winning performance in the cage.
The junior Georgetown commit sparkled in the first half, making seven of his 11 saves to help lead top-ranked Duxbury to a 5-4 victory over No. 7 Medfield Thursday night at Medfield High School.
Marrocco made several saves that fell into the ridiculous category while giving the Dragons (9-4) every possible opportunity climb out of a 3-2, first-half deficit.
"Nick stood on his head," praised Duxbury coach Chris Sweet. "If not for Nick, that would have been a loss for us. He kept us in it in the first half until our guys kind of woke up."
Medfield (10-2) jumped out first as Matt Crowell snapped in an unassisted tally on the game's first possession. Brendan Burke pulled the Dragons even at the 7:01 mark, but the Warriors won the ensuing faceoff and retook the lead on a goal from Matt Ruzzo.
Wes Quinzani tied it up again with an athletic play that saw him split through a pair of defenders, then crash through two more as he got off his shot. Medfield would another in the second quarter as Jack Isaf converted a feed from Matt Cahill for a 3-2 lead they would carry into the half.
The third quarter belonged to Duxbury, who used smart, lengthy possessions to keep the ball away from the Warriors while generating quality scoring opportunities for itself. Bobby O'Brien made it a 3-3 game with a shot through traffic that may have gone off a defenseman, then C.J. LoConte gave the Dragons their first lead on a sidewinder, and Matt Sharpe capped the 3-0 run off a feed from LoConte with nine seconds left in the frame.
"In the first half we were trying to get as many possessions and we could but ended up playing a lot of defense so it was kind of just knocking it down," Marrocco said. "We communicated a lot, that was huge, my defense helps me out with that. Trying to figure out the slides in the first half it was a little tough but we got it going in the second half and let the offense do the job."
And on the slide package, Marrocco said, "They were dodging from the top and basically feeding the middle as we slid, before the two was coming so we just adjusted to that and got the two really early so we had that backup guy."
Medfield was kept scoreless until Andrew Melvin got one through with just one second left to play in the game.
"Unfortunately it was a tale of two different halves," lamented Medfield coach John Isaf. "Part of it is, we've got to make smart decisions. We've got to get the ball out quicker. When we have a ground ball or a save, we've got get the ball out quicker. We're not breaking out fast enough, we're not getting in our lanes and we've got to get the ball out faster. Part of that is when we let somebody set up a ride, its tougher to clear."
WALSH RETURN PROVIDES A BOOST
Over past couple of weeks, as many as seven Dragons have been sidelined with various injuries but the team finally had some good news with the return of Fairfield-bound defender Jay Walsh to the lineup. Walsh has missed the last two weeks with a hyperextended elbow.
"We needed Jay back," Sweet said. "The poor kid was exhausted by the end there but he's a trooper. He's still got a bad wing but he played great. We really needed him because they've got two or three guys in the midfield that can bring it and Jay was a big help there."
The senior captain stepped right back into his spot alongside Marshall McCarthy and John Hurvitz and the unit was able to make the necessary adjustments to help the defense react to what Medfield was doing.
"We knew their big guys, they have a lot of great shooters so we were trying to stay with them and then we realized once went, we had to recover," Walsh said of the adjustments on defense. "That's where they were beating us, on that backside guy. Once we got that figured out and had a middie slough in, we've been having that problem all year, just the middies sloughing back, and I think we're starting to figure that out now and it showed in the second quarter and second half."
Still on the Dragons injured list are: Trevor and Shayne O'Brien, Jack and Shane Sullivan, Tanner Williams and Brendan Fitzgerald. The majority of those players are offensive guys, and getting them healthy will go a long way toward curing a three-game stretch over which the team has managed just three, eight and five goals respectively.
"We scored just enough. We've been a little stale on offense. We have a couple of middies out that are going to help us when they get healthy and I think were going to get them back soon. The good news is that the guys who have stepped in for them have played pretty well. We'll work on it."
COMPLETE GAME SEARCH CONTINUES
Medfield had ample opportunity to put an end to the buzz already generating for next Thursday's showdown between Duxbury and Lincoln-Sudbury, and if not for Marrocco's effort, we could have been discussing a Warrior victory.
Instead, it was a tale of two halves for Medfield, who seemed to have things in hand over the first 24 minutes but could not maintain it through the end.
"We still haven't put a complete game together," Isaf said. "We played a lousy first half against Foothill and played a great second half. We played a pretty decent first half against Dover-Sherborn, didn't get it done in the second half. We played a good first half tonight, didn't get it done in the second half. We have to figure out how to get a complete game. Once we do, we'll be a tough out."
When asked what his team needed to do to get that elusive complete-game performance, Isaf said, "Keeping your intensity up, keeping your focus, not letting a momentum play change your confidence. Focus, intensity and when another team goes on a run and throws a punch, you've got to get up and punch back. We've done that most of the season. The only teams we haven't have been against two defending state champions."