Deny Tanners in Middlesex League opener, 10-4
By DAN BYRNE
WOBURN — The Wakefield Memorial High School boys’ lacrosse team went on the road to Woburn on Wednesday to face the Tanners in its first Middlesex League game of the season.
The Warriors improved their record to 2-0 under first year head coach Andrew Lavalle with a 10-4 win at Connolly Stadium.
“That was a real test,” the victorious coach said after the win. “On our man down we had a couple of breakdowns but fundamental mistakes we’re OK with, four goals, I’m fine with that. We were patient, fast and spread out, that’s what I like on my offensive side.”
It was all Warriors in this one as they rode some outstanding performances by their top players.
James McAuliffe was the spark that lit the offense ablaze in the center. Wakefield held the advantage in face-offs won 15-1, most of which McAuliffe was in the middle of, and he added his first two goals of the year.
MJ Urbano was on fire and fueled the offense with five goals and another assist. He’s now scored nine goals and two assists in the first two games.
After the game his coach said, “MJ Urbano had an absolute game out there, he’s a total baller. He’s the fastest kid I’ve ever seen and when he gets the ball, it’s a tough matchup no matter what way you slice it.”
Vin Ferretti had a goal and an assist and Brandon Grinnell and Austin Collard each had one goal in the win for the Warriors.
Perhaps the most critical of outstanding performers on the day for the Warriors was the display put on by goalie Alex Flynn.
Flynn’s nine saves kept the Warriors above water and many of them came in dazzling fashion. Woburn only managed three of its four goals against Flynn, as he was forced off when he took a penalty in the third quarter.
“Flynn’s keeping us in it the whole time as far as clearing the ball, making those hard saves,” Coach Lavalle said afterward. “He’s making one on one saves. And then he’s clearing it all the way up the field.”
In front of Flynn, some hard-nosed defending led by Dylan Brady and Steve Marino made it undesirable for the Woburn players to venture too close to the net.
In reality very little was in question for the Warriors on Wednesday, though it can’t truly be said they ran away with it, they simply had control.
They took an early three goal lead in the first and after a volley of late goals, led 4-1 after one quarter.
“In the first quarter we started off strong,” the coach said. “We ran our offense, we stayed spread.”
In the second quarter Wakefield had possession for a major portion of the time. Woburn wasn’t able to do anything to get the ball and when it had it the Tanners had to give all they had just to keep it.
“The best defense is a good offense and that’s especially true in lacrosse,” Lavalle said. “That is what we’re trying to do, the name of the game is possession and we’re trying to possess.”
Scoring goals wasn’t in the cards in the second quarter and a lone Warrior goal meant Wakefield held a 5-1 lead at halftime.
“In the first quarter we started well,” the coach said after the game. “We slowed down a little bit in second.”
Woburn came out in the third quarter and made it interesting for a while.
The Tanners notched the first two goals of the second half and, for a time, the game was separated by just two goals at 5-3.
However, Wakefield went on to score three unanswered goals before the end of the quarter and, after three, it was 8-3 with the Warriors on top.
Woburn threatened to come back in the fourth quarter as it scored the opening goal of the quarter. However the Tanners didn’t have enough in the tank to manage a comeback as the Warriors drained the clock with efficiency and capped the game off with two fourth quarter goals for good measure.
To sum it up the coach put it, “It’s all about the 3 P’s we believe in for Wakefield lacrosse,. We believe in passion, preparation and performance. Everybody wants to be here, everybody wants to play. Guys are getting a little bit older and the big thing we focus on is fundamentals. When you focus on fundamentals, it goes down to mental toughness, it goes down to making the right decisions and that good lacrosse IQ and those are the things we practice.”
Wakefield faces their next challenge on Friday back at Landrigan when the Warriors host Newburyport in a noon time start.
“We’re going to be prepared for that game,” Lavalle said. “Then it all comes down to performance and execution and that’s what we’re waiting to do and that’s what we’re eager to do.”