by Sam Barrett-Cotter on Friday, May 18th, 2012In a league of constant surprises, the underdog Milton Mustangs, entered May 5th’s game against Governor’s Academy with an upset in the back of their minds. The Red Dogs of Byfield, the ISL’s best and most-hyped team, start six division I collegiate commitments and have many other division III commitments.
The 11-3 score of Milton’s loss did not, however, reflect the effort put forth by the Mustangs. The Mustangs made Governors fight for every goal.
On the Red Dogs’ first possession, Milton goalie Jake Hogan (III) made a stellar kick save, letting the home team know that the orange and blue would not go down easy. The game remained a 0-0 stalemate until Gov’s buried an outside shot three minutes in. But the message was clear: the game would not be decided by which team had more college lacrosse players, but by which team battled harder.
The three minutes of back and forth to open the game gave the visitor’s faith, and for the favorites, a slap in the face. With goals by Kevin Lynch (II) and Nick Bland (II), the first quarter ended 4-2 in favor of Governor’s.
In the second quarter, the Red Dog’s appeared to have run away with it by scoring 2 quick goals for a four goal lead. However, Captain Nick Gagnon (I) narrowed the lead with a beautiful goal from attack. But, the Milton scoring would cease there. Bland and Gagnon came within inches of adding a fourth tally, but the post came up big four times in a span of ten seconds.
The dismay of hitting the post lingered, and Governor’s never looked back. The second half saw the home team dominate play and prove they do in fact deserve their undefeated record.
The ‘Stangs, however, were not deterred. Next stop? Needham, MA, for a face off against the other undefeated powerhouse: the St. Sebastian’s Red Arrows. The Arrows marched out of their locker room, like soldiers of the Red Army: 2 by 2, clad in all black, transfixing the visiting Mustangs. The formidable opponent believed, just as Governor’s had the game before, that the Mustangs would be an easy win. Milton, however, had other plans.
“Before the game we felt relaxed and we felt ready to play, but not over-amped,” said captain Harry Pearce (I). “This let us concentrate and play smart when the game started.”
The rain and gray sky were a sort of poetic foreshadowing to the wake up call Seb’s would soon receive. Riding Eddie Richardson’s (I) countless face-off wins, Milton came out strong out of the gate. Goals by Sam Wasserman (I), Gagnon, and Bland put Milton up 3-0.
Pearce continued, “Our offense moved the ball very efficiently.” The ball movement and time of possession of the offense were keys in the game and were components that Milton has struggled with all season.
Although the Red Arrows responded with 3 goals of their own, Milton closed the quarter with a spectacular play. After a save by Hogan, Nick Bland sprinted the ball down the field with 8 seconds to go, passing the ball to Cole Morrisette (II), who buried a shot as time expired.
St. Sebastian’s’ stunned squad soon learned that no amount of “let’s go boys” could beat the power of momentum. Milton responded to a solid 1st quarter with an even better 2nd quarter, highlighted by two goals from Wasserman in the same minute. The half closed with Milton leading 9-5.
In the second half, however, the momentum, that had helped Milton so much in the first, waned. Milton lost focus, and the Arrows gained confidence. Not even brick wall goalkeeping could keep the Mustangs on top.
“Hogan played unreal,” said defense-man James Oliver (II), “but he could only bail us out so much.”
St. Sebastian’s took their first lead in the 4th quarter, and never relinquished it. Cole Morrisette scored with 40 seconds remaining to draw within one goal, but the Arrows won the face off and ran out the clock to win the game 12-11.
The two losses are nothing to be ashamed of. If Milton continues to play the way they’ve shown they are capable of, and avoid losing focus, as they did against Lawrence Academy, the Mustangs could finish above .500.
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