FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – Mike Adley stole a pass with less than 30 seconds remaining in the game and Framingham quickly transitioned into the attack. The Flyers, down by a single goal to Franklin in Wednesday’s Division 1 lacrosse tournament game, moved the ball from right to left and put it on the stick of the player that they wanted to take the big shot.
Senior midfielder Joe Igoe dodged and cut through the middle of the Franklin defense to find an opening 12 yards in front of goal. As he lined up a shot, it seemed a mere formality that the preliminary round game would be heading to overtime. Standing in the way was Franklin goalie Jimmy Keane, who snared the shot and sent the Panthers bench storming onto the field.
Keane finished the game with 12 saves, including four in the final five minutes of the game to preserve a 7-6 victory for No. 17 seed Franklin (13-6) over the No. 16-seeded Flyers (12-6). Keane robbed Igoe, Mike Stearns and Amir Rassipour, all from point-blank range to keep the Panthers on top.
“[Igoe] is a great player, he was bringing heat all day,” said an elated Keane after game. “So I knew we had to watch them over the middle and keep an eye on the stick, especially when he goes through a bunch of sticks like he does and just read the ball.”
Keane laughed when asked what he was thinking when the players get into the middle of the defense. He remarked, “I really hope I guess right. I really hope I know where he’s going before he goes there because if not – it’s a goal.”
Keane also drew praise from his head coach Lou Verrochi, who is hoping that he can count on those types of performances from his goalie as the Panthers advance to face the top seed in the bracket, Lincoln-Sudbury.
He said, “He was superb today. When he’s on, he’s just unbelievable, you know. He just stopped everything. He kept us in the game, especially at the end because they had some good looks.”
Framingham took the early lead on a goal from Rassipour, assisted by Jake Cotton. Franklin responded off a turnover by the Flyers defense as Mike Patjane tied the game at 1-1. Just 40 seconds later, Patjane was at it again with an unassisted goal to give the Panthers their first lead of the game.
Both coaches would complain about the sloppiness of the first half and turnovers let the Flyers right back into the game. Jimmy Chin scored twice for Framingham and Cotton struck the post as the Flyers got back out in front 3-2 with a flurry. When Igoe tacked on a man-up goal at 10:27 of the second quarter, Framingham seemed in control.
But it was a game of runs and Franklin came storming back.
Kyle Finamore fired in the first of three goals on the night to make it 4-3 and sophomore Jack Vail scored from a Patjane assist to tie the game heading into halftime. Framingham coach Ed Moy pointed to that sequence as the turning point in the game.
“We had our chances, it was a back and forth game, and I felt the game started to get away from us in the second quarter when we started playing out of control,” he commented.
In the third quarter, the Panthers extended their run to four unanswered goals. Patjane (2 goals, 2 assists) connected with Jake Sargeant to make it 5-4 before Finamore found the back of the net for a second time. Igoe ended the run early in the fourth, but with 6:08 remaining, Finamore netted his hat trick on a man-up goal that seemed to settle the game for Franklin.
Finamore’s three goals were a great sign that the captain may have found his scoring touch for the Panthers.
Verrochi explained, “Finney [Finamore] comes up big in big games. He’s had kind of a quiet season for us; this was a breakout game for him, but he’s the real deal. He can play.”
Framingham came back with a goal by Stearns with just 5:08 left on the clock, but Keane’s heroics allowed Franklin to keep its season alive for at least one more game.
After the game, Moy spoke of his pride in the Flyers’ ability to make the playoffs despite a series of injuries and key players that chose hockey over lacrosse this season.
“Before we even started, we had guys that were hurt or didn’t play and in the season we lost one kid right after another,” he said, “But, these kids kept their eye on the prize and kept going forward. Their determination is something that I’ll forever be grateful for and be proud of.”
Franklin will advance to the first round to take on the top team in Division 1, Lincoln-Sudbury, on Saturday afternoon.