DUXBURY, Mass. – A swirling wind and – at times – a driving rain had both No. 3 Duxbury and No. 18 Cohasset out of sorts in Tuesday’s cross-division battle of South Shore powers.
But the Dragons were just a bit crisper, going on a 7-0 run to earn a 9-5 win over the Skippers.
“The weather made it a little bit sloppy and tough to handle the ball, but in the end we had plenty of chances to increase our lead and just didn’t seem to finish inside,” Duxbury head coach Chris Sweet said. “But that’ll come as the season goes on. We’re still trying to put together a complete game.”
The Dragons (5-1) surrendered the first goal, but ran off a string of seven straight goals, spanning into the third quarter. Although the Skippers (6-1) had a run of their own in the second half, whittling the lead down to three midway through the fourth quarter, Duxbury largely held them at arm’s length behind a strong defensive effort and, all the while, winning the time of possession battle.
“You want to shorten the passes up, protect the ball,” Sweet said of controlling the ball during inclement weather. “You’re not thinking about going to the goal so much, just taking care of the ball and usually when you do that, especially in these conditions, defenses usually get a little impatient and make a mistake.
“Then, it becomes obvious when to go to the goal.”
Despite their “impatience” with the ball, as Sweet termed it, the Dragons possessed for long stretches of the first half and took a 6-1 lead to the locker room. Brendan Burke paced Duxbury with three goals, while Trevor O’Brien and Wes Quinzani popped in two goals each.
The possession gap between teams was also a result of Dragons defensive effort however. Sweet lauded the trio of Hunter Marston, Victor Moitinho and Liam Strauss for keeping things clean out in front of goaltender Nick Marrocco.
“I love this defense,” he said. “Our poles that are out there are all very athletic, they’re fundamentally sound and they move the ball well on clears. They communicate well. And, now, they’re playing great.”
Tuesday’s game marked just the second home game for the Dragons against MIAA competition, after hitting the road to take on some of New York’s best (Pittsford, a 6-5 loss on April 5) and Connecticut state power Fairfield Prep in a 9-6 win on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the game marked a bit of aberration for the Skippers, who are considered to be among the favorites to win the Division 3 state title this year. Head coach James Beaudoin said Tuesday’s was his team’s sloppiest performance of the year. While he wasn’t about to blame the weather for the Skippers’ inability to hold onto the ball at times, Beaudoin found the time of possession disparity played a greater role in his team’s first loss on the year.
Despite a pair of second-half goals from Danny Axelson, Cohasset was unable find rhythm in its offensive sets – at least not early enough in the afternoon.
“We were using some new offensive sets and getting the ball to the attack because they didn’t have the ball for most of the game,” Beaudoin said. “That was one of the keys was attacking their defense, but we weren’t getting it into [the attack’s] hands.”
He added, “That was the frustration for us was that the middies were taking it down, they were gassed from playing defense and that one pass just wasn’t crisp enough.”