WORCESTER, Mass. -- Longmeadow remained perfect in Wednesday's Division II state semifinal, knocking off Central Mass champion St. John's (Shrewsbury), 15-6.
Though the Lancers cruised to a relatively routine victory, first-year Longmeadow head coach Ryan Liebel still thinks his team has issues to work out before Friday's final against Medfield.
"From the outside eye it seemed easy," Liebel said. "But to be honest, we had a lot of mental errors that we can't have happen this late in the season, and we've got to clean up. Honestly, we didn't play our greatest today, but we were able to take advantage of the opportunities we needed to in order to beat a good St. John's team."
Unlike the last time these two teams played, where Longmeadow (24-0) had to dig itself out of an early 3-0 hole, the Lancers controlled the action from the opening face-off. Longmeadow jumped out to a 5-1 lead early in the second quarter, powered largely by the offensive play of Zach Lukas. The talented junior recorded four of Longmeadow's first five points, and finished the day with a goal and five assists against St. John's (18-4).
But, it was the all-around game of junior middie Drew Kelleher that would prove to be the difference. Kelleher was dominant on face-offs all day, but also recorded four goals, dished out two assists and collected 10 ground balls. Kelleher's third goal to start the fourth quarter pushed Longmeadow's lead to eight at 11-3 and put the game out of reach.
"Drew Kelleher is a great, great player," Liebel said. "He's all over the field for us, defense, offense, he wins face-offs, he was great for us, and he stuck them when we needed him to."
Next up for Longmeadow will be a rematch with Eastern Mass champion Medfield. Longmeadow pounded Medfield, 16-1, on May 12, and Liebel knows the Warriors will be ready this time around.
"I know for a fact that, if a team gets smoked like that, they're coming out hot," Liebel said. "They worked their butts off the rest of the season after that to get where they are, so we're expecting an entirely different team when we see them again."
As of now, the Division II state final is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Foley Stadium in Worcester, though officials are concerned about storms heading into the area. If the game is pushed back, it will be played the following day at 5 p.m. at Foley Stadium.