WELLSELEY, Mass. -- If a defensive lacrosse battle was what you were looking for then there was no better place to be on Friday night than Wellesley’s Sprague Field.
No. 6 seed Wellesley and No. 11 Concord-Carlisle locked horns in another pivotal post-season matchup as the Raiders outlasted C-C to win, 4-3, and advance to the quarterfinals of the Eastern Mass. Division 2 tournament.
“In a 4-3 game, if one team blinks, that game goes the other way,” Wellesley head coach Rocky Batty said after the game. “All the credit in the world to Concord-Carlisle. You can’t score on them.”
Two of the top programs in Massachusetts Division 2 lacrosse, both programs pride themselves in their ability to control the pace of the game and to use their defensive strengths to wear teams down.
“They did a better job of taking the air out of the ball and they valued the ball better than we did today,” Concord-Carlisle head coach Tom Dalicandro said.
Wellesley (16-4) would score first as attack John Caraviello beat his man and finished at the cage to give the home team an early 1-0 lead.
Wellesley middie Andrew Volkmann would then score the next two goals as the senior captain stayed aggressive and beat C-C sophomore goalie Andrew Kielar to give Wellesley a 3-0 lead after one quarter.
C-C (13-6) changed goalies early as they went to freshman Aidan Long to try to stem some of the early momentum. Long would do just that as the young C-C netminder came in and made an immediate impact.
“Aidan [Long] stepped in and was unbelievable,” Dalicandro said after the game. “It is great for him and we have great competition for the next two years.”
Concord-Carlisle got on the board with their first goal, midway through the second quarter, as middie Will Blumenberg let one rip from the top of the box to beat Wellesley goalie Mike Riskind with a man-up score.
C-C seized temporary momentum as senior defender Evan Boynton made a nice play on the ball deep in the C-C field of play and carried the ball the length of the field in transition. He found attack Charlie Painter (2 assists), who hit fellow attack Steven Armanetti to cut the lead Wellesley lead to 3-2.
Wellesley would get a big goal before the half as Kerry Lyne would score to make it 4-2 and give the Raiders a two-goal advantage heading to the half.
Defensive Finish: Both teams struggled out of the half, as each team’s defense buckled down and denied each other’s offense numerous potential scoring opportunities.
“The goalies were great, the defenses were great and I do not know how the middies could run any harder for both teams,” Batty stressed.
The Wellesley defensive unit of Matt Bomes, Will Hartnett and T.J. Noonan all did a magnificent job controlling the tempo of the game and shutting the C-C offense out through most of the second half.
“Every minute counts and you cannot take any turns off,” Bomes said after the game. “We were ready to go today. Four-to-three is a close one, not a lot of scoring, and we just had to hold it down.”
The Wellesley defensive midfield also did a great job of limiting C-C’s transition opportunities and negating the effectiveness of the early offense. Trailing by two goals with time winding down, C-C middie Jack Barrett scored on the run to bring C-C to within one goal at 4-3 with 2:53 remaining in the game.
Despite the goal and the newfound momentum, Wellesley’s defense and Riskind denied C-C the comeback attempt. Riskind came up with a critical save with under one minute remaining in the game to seal the win.
“We had all the momentum in the fourth quarter,” Dalicandro said. “We just needed to bury some shots and we just didn’t. They are a very good defensive team and their goalie made some saves.”
The Concord-Carlisle senior defensive unit of Boynton (Amherst-football), Sam Barrett (Washington and Lee) and Javier Flores (St. Mary’s College) also played equally well in the loss. The all-Dual County League veteran unit will be missed as they transition to college athletics.
“They did a great job,” Dalicandro said. “They are three all-league guys and we are going to miss them. We are going to be a really different team next year. We graduate a lot of seniors. It was great to see them step up and play championship lacrosse.
Wellesley advances to the quarterfinals and will take on the winner of No. 3 Reading and No. 19 Melrose. Both Middlesex league rivals will play their first round game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at Reading High School.