CMass Lacrosse Notebook: Round Three for Algonquin and St. John’s
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Defending district champion Algonquin will look to reach the championship game against its old nemesis, St. John's. The Tomahawks have defeated the Pioneers twice this season, but that doesn't mean Algonquin coach Rich Luongo is feeling any better about facing a talented St. John's squad.
"We know when we play this team, it's a premier match up," Luongo said. "I'm not a big believer in streaks or anything like that, so you can throw everything that has happened before this out. It's going to come down to who comes out and jumps on opportunities, and plays a clean game."
The previous games that Luongo would advise his team to forget about are particularly relevant, however. After losing six in a row to the Pioneers, Algonquin has won its last three against St. John's. That winning streak began last year in the Central Mass championship game, and continued with a 12-9 home win over the Pioneers and a 13-6 win at St. John's.
Despite winning its first two games of the tournament by a combined score of 28-8, Luongo is still worried that his team may be starting games a little bit slow.
"That's been a major concern of mine, and I can't really put my finger on why it's happening," Luongo said. "I'm just trying to will them out of it by reminding them what is important to them, and what our goals are as a team. We want to win Central Mass again, and maybe make some noise in the state tournament, get back to that championship game."
St. John's playing its best
To get there, the Tomahawks will have to get through a St. John's team that seems to be peaking at the right time. After a late season lull that saw them struggle to reach double-digit goal totals, the Pioneers have exploded for 33 goals in playoff wins over Shepherd Hill and Oakmont.
Last season, St. John's defeated Algonquin twice before losing to the Tomahawks in the playoffs. Pioneer coach Terry Leary says that his team is not out for payback or any kind of poetic justice, but it does understand that this is the game everyone will remember.
"You don't look at it as revenge," Leary said. "You view it as the regular season is the regular season. Winning those games is great, and we've learned a lot. But, ultimately, (today's) game is all that matters."
Juniors Vinny D'Amato and Hunter Burdick have stepped up for Pioneers, each chipping in multi-goal efforts in both playoff games. Senior Jeff Desko has kept the offense moving as a distributor for St. John's, and junior goalie A.J. Arnold has been stellar thus far. Leary knows his team is playing well, but also understands that beating Algonquin requires a complete effort.
"I think it's tough to contain all their offensive weapons," Healy said. "They come at you with (senior Conor) Healy and (junior Davis) Kraft, and they possess the ball so well. Then, they play solid defense, so you know you will have to work for your points. We have to make them work for everything they get, and try to get running in transition, because they do such a great job of controlling the pace."
While Algonquin and St. John's know each other well, Grafton and Tyngsborough will get acquainted for the first time in the early game. Tyngsborough, who had blown through its first season in Central Mass with relative ease, appeared vulnerable in the playoffs. Taken to the wire in a 13-10 win over Milford, the Tigers
A 19-2 win over Blackstone Valley Tech should do the trick of getting Tyngsborough's explosive offense back on track, but the Tigers will have to contend with best offense they've seen all season.
Grafton comes into the game as Central Mass' highest scoring team, averaging 14.5 goals a game. The Warriors are paced by Central Mass' two leading scorers in juniors Tyler Reilly and Bryan Rotatori. It will be a true match up of statistical giants, as Tyngsborough brings Central Mass' top defense to the table, giving up only 3.76 goals a game, largely due to a sensational season by senior goalie Peter Latulippe.
Something has to give.
Oh, and when the Tigers have the ball, things won't get any less exciting. Tyngsborough boasts the region's second best attack, with Grafton bringing in the No. 2 defense in Central Mass.
The Tigers and Warriors are scheduled to begin play today at 5 pm. Algonquin and St. John's will follow in the late game, with a starting time of 7:15 pm. Both games will be played at Foley Stadium.
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- Algonquin Lacrosse Reloads for Another Title Run
- GoLocal Coaches Poll: Big Win Keeps Algonquin On Top
- Senior Profiles: Algonquin Lacrosse
- Why Algonquin Lacrosse is the Playoff Favorite