NEEDHAM, Mass. – Nick Shaw finished what Lukas Buckley started.
Buckley, a junior attack for Xaverian lacrosse, started Friday night’s Division 1 South sectional semifinal with points on each of the Hawks’ first three goals against Needham. But after Buckley was forced out of the game with a second-quarter injury, it was left to Shaw, a sophomore, to make the move from the midfield to attack.
It was a seemless transition.
Shaw scored four goals, including what would prove to be the game-winning goal in the defending Division 1 state champions’ 12-9 win over the Rockets. With the win, the Hawks advance to play Duxbury in the sectional title game, Tuesday at Harvard Stadium.
“Lukas is such a big possession kid for us, and a set-up man, and a quarterback,” Xaverian head coach Tim Gardner said, “him going down was something we had to adjust to.”
Buckley was a major presence in the early going, scoring two goals and doling out an assist on the Hawks’ first three goals of the game.
Xaverian (18-3) took a 5-3 lead into halftime, with Shaw playing a prominent role. He assisted on Dan Grant’s first of two goals, providing the Hawks with a 4-3 lead midway through the second quarter. Shaw then netted his first goal of the game with 2:22 remaining in the half.
It was at that time that Shaw went about trying to fill Buckley’s shoes.
“Our main X dodger wasn’t there, obviously, and probably our best goal-scorer, too,” Shaw said. “So I had to move down to attack from middie. It was a big loss, but I guess we got around it pretty well.”
The Hawks didn’t lose stride, as they scored twice within the first minute of the third quarter with Jack Wheeler and Sean Sperzel goals.
Wheeler scored his second of the game minutes later on a magisterial goal, collecting a ground ball in the defensive half before motoring through midfield, changing hands and letting it rip from 20 yards out.
Something inside the Rockets woke up at that point, however, as they responded to score the next four goals to tie it, 8-8, early in the fourth quarter.
“It just goes to show that our boys don’t have a quit in them,” Needham head coach Dave Wainwright said. “I’m very proud of just overall effort was, no matter what the score was in that situation.”
Aaron Maslow, Cody Mosgrove, Tim Peterson and Danny Jacobs scored goals in succession to knot the score.
But less than a minute after Needham had drawn even, Xaverian reclaimed the lead from an unsuspecting offensive source. Hawks pole Chris Ciolfi went the distance and then some, turning transition into the go-ahead goal with 7:42 to play.
“I was thinking about taking a timeout,” Gardner said of the play. “I’m glad I didn’t. Obviously, our long poles practice shooting and we know that Chris is a good shooter and he’s a transition threat. I think he was huge all night. That was just a great individual effort.”
From there, Shaw took control, capping the game with three of his game-high four goals in the final quarter. He notched the eventual game-winner with 6:10 to play before Cam Wolfe (2 G) added the Rockets’ ninth goal.
Toomey time: Hawks sophomore goaltender Mike Toomey provided the backdrop for the Hawks’ win, making 14 saves on the evening. The first-year starter has come into his own during the second half of the season, gaining confidence in his game and that of Xaverian’s coaching staff.
“He was seeing the ball really well tonight,” Gardner said. “He stopped some pretty point blank shots that you don’t really expect a kid to save. It was huge, a huge turn in momentum.”