Duxbury, L-S matchup a timeless treat

SUDBURY, Mass. – When it was finally over, the members of the Duxbury lacrosse coaching staff stood in silence, some of them doubled over, hands on knees, looking out at the sticks, gloves, helmets that were being tossed around in celebration. Having endured nearly eight quarters of play, the No. 1 Dragons finally cast off No. 2 Lincoln-Sudbury, 8-7, with 17 seconds to play in overtime No. 4.

Clearly dazed by the nerve-racking experience, a few moments after it ended, Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet took stock of what just unfolded.

It all seemed like a dream – more of the surrealist kind.

“Did we really play four overtimes?” Sweet asked, although not rhetorically. “You really kind of lose track of time in the middle of it.”

Speaking of time, the game was originally slated to start at 5:30 p.m., but its start was delayed to nearly 6 p.m., the result of the string of super-charged thunderstorms that rolled through the Metro-West communities. The turf was saturated. The air hung heavy with humidity, with the occasional whiff of charbroiled hamburgers from the snack shack. Still, the later start time allowed more of the late-arriving revelers to arrive in time for faceoff, with many caught in the snarling traffic that encircled Boston for the Thursday evening commute.

The tone was set from the opening faceoff. After Duxbury won the draw, Sweet decided to take a timeout 15 seconds in – an indication of how important each possession would be between two equally talented sides. No one was in a hurry. This was one for savoring.

The crowd was as big as you’d ever see for a regular-season varsity lacrosse game in the Commonwealth. Fans spilled out of the near-capacity bleachers and around the fencing. By halftime, L-S held a 4-3 lead. The last four minutes or so of the second quarter were played in a torrential downpour. Nobody left.

When the second half passed without resolution, they still remained. Duxbury’s junior varsity team stood in one corner of the far-side bleachers – all players still dressed in uniform, soaking wet. One player held a green flag with a white calligraphy-styled “D” on it. At one point during the fourth quarter, a couple Duxbury students procured the flag and took it on a tour around the track, passing in front of the L-S fan section, drawing jeers.

As the succession of overtimes wore on, there seemed no end. Man-up advantages came and went with the same result. Warriors goaltender Dario Morando and Duxbury counterpart Nick Marrocco had an answer for everything hurled their way.

By the middle of the third extra session, the pair of students administering the official score book for L-S had resigned themselves to inevitability.

“There’s no space for all these overtime periods in the book,” one said.

He paused for a minute and pondered when the game might ever end, adding, “Of course, I have two tests tomorrow to study for tonight. I don’t think that’s going to happen now.”

Soon thereafter, about midway through the third overtime, there was a momentary calm that fell over the huddled masses for a moment. After all the near misses, the fever pitch faded to a sigh.

“Why’d everybody get so quiet?” one L-S student during a pin-drop moment, drawing laughs from his peers.

On the field, exhaustion took its toll as well. Play slowed to begin the fourth overtime, and a few errant passes ended possessions for either side.

Tyler Powers scored the game-winner when the game appeared to be heading to a fifth extra frame. Seventeen seconds locked in on the scoreboard as his teammates ran to greet him.

“It’s one-hundred percent mental,” Powers said of combating weary legs, “not doing stupid things, not throwing passes away, not taking bad shots. And then, just taking the ball to the hoop.”

Although suffering a tough defeat, L-S head coach Brian Vona, himself a former goalkeeper, reveled in the clinic he’d just witnessed between the pipes.

“Wasn’t that awesome?” he beamed. He then broke off to gain the attention of the nearby athletic trainer to attend to Duxbury’s C.J. LoConte, who was splayed out on the turf, merely spent.

Yet, there’s no rest for the Dragons yet. They are scheduled to be back in action less than 24 hours later with another road game against Quincy.

The closest they’d come to relishing Thursday’s win came with the chocolate truffle coated wafers the Dragons manager had prepared for the postgame – a tradition in Duxbury’s program, passing out assorted sweets that is.

“Well, if we didn’t have a game tomorrow, I’d have to think about that,” Sweet said of his team’s recovery. “People talk about our schedule, the grind we put these guys through. There’ve been in some tough ones, but these guys are used to it. We play back-to-back games out-of-state. You’ve just got to be ready.”

Let’s do it again sometime soon.