WESTBOROUGH, Mass. -- Westborough lacrosse has come a long way this season under first-year coach Tom Baker, but the new coach still left his team’s 7-6 home defeat to reigning Central Mass champion Algonquin unsatisfied.
“Today was a very good game, but a win would have been a great game,” Baker said. “I think we’re a little off schedule because we’ve taken some losses here at the end of the season, but I still believe in my guys, and they know I believe in them. When we’re on, we can beat up on anybody.”
The margin for error was razor thin for the Rangers, and Algonquin junior Mike Wood made sure there would be no overtime as ominous rain clouds hovered overhead. Wood shook his man to the right and beat Westborough goalie Dan Terry between the legs for his third goal of the day with 5:46 to go, putting Algonquin up for good in a back-and-forth game.
“I really just think our heart got us through this one,” Wood said. “We played as one unit and fought until the end. They’re a great team, but I think that was the difference today.”
It looked like the Tomahawks (14-6) would run away midway through the third quarter, when senior long-stick midfielder Mike Halloran scooped up a ground ball and sprinted toward the Rangers’ net. Instead of taking on Terry, Halloran dished it to sophomore Tyler Hatton trailing the play. The score capped a three-goal Algonquin run, but Westborough (10-8) answered back in the next 15 minutes with a pair of goals from senior Tony Cebilli and another from junior Mike Gallo.
That duo led Westborough with a pair of goals each, but in the game’s final seconds Halloran picked up yet another ground ball in the defensive zone and cleared to seal the Rangers’ fate.
SUPPORTING WOUNDED WARRIORS
The game also served as Westborough’s Senior Day and a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, the non-profit aimed at helping injured and disabled veterans. While Senior Day would be spoiled for the graduating Rangers, coaches from each side agreed that the game showcased traits they admired in America’s soldiers.
“I was kind of happy that [Baker] invited us to this kind of a thing,” Algonquin coach Rich Luongo said. “My dad passed away this year and we was a Vet, a Korean War Vet, so it was nice to have that, too. … It’s just a great thing, and this is what it’s about. This is what’s great about lacrosse, we get these kids community involved and respecting the game and respecting their opponent and things like that.”
“For us, our big thing is courage and grit,” Baker said. “I think that’s what our soldiers do for us out there in foreign countries, [it’s] courage. I always preach that, and that’s what made this project for us a thing. We want that courage, we want that grit to show out there.”
The victory completed yet another perfect league season for the Tomahawks, who finished the year 13-0 in Mid-Wach A play. While Algonquin continues a three-year unbeaten run in the league, the Tomahawks nevertheless enter next week’s playoffs as an underdog. After back-to-back Central Mass titles and state championship game appearances, it’s a role the current T-Hawks are relishing.
“I think we’re the underdogs this year,” Wood said. “St. John’s is a great team, Grafton is a great team, Westborough and Shrewsbury are two great teams, so I think we’re flying under the radar right now… I love it, I think we all love it.”