Unbeaten Melrose reaches 10-0 after Wakefield win
Published June 11, 2021
By JENNIFER GENTILE
WAKEFIELD—The Melrose Red Raider boy’s lacrosse team are once again Middlesex League champs. This after completing a successful 10-0 regular season campaign in the Middlesex Freedom League, culminating in back-to-back wins over Wakefield this week. This is Melrose’s 5th Middlesex League title and their second straight one—their last being in 2019.
Their final regular season victory was on Monday, a 9-3 road win over Wakefield that cemented their perfect season. For Melrose coach Matt James, this accomplishment is one piece of a larger puzzle. “It’s awesome to have gone 10-0 and it’s great to see another year on the banner,” he says. “But this regular season was really about improving, fine tuning some things and preparing ourselves for the ML tournament and the MIAA playoffs.”
After one year of no lacrosse, this was exactly the kind of league record they were aiming for. But there is plenty of lacrosse left. Melrose will compete in the ML tournament this week when they host Woburn Thursday evening (post deadline) at 7:00 p.m. They are expected to host a game on Saturday to with an opponent and time to be determined.
On Monday, it was a true defensive match up between an always-stingy Red Raider “D” and a tough Warrior line. Melrose senior goalie Frank Capaldo had a top notch game at the net with 8 saves over the day while Shea Fogarty had a strong defensive game from Melrose, with help from a pretty lights out defensive squad. Says James, “Shea played a fantastic game on defense as did Tommy Pino, who are both consistent on the short stick. Overall, I think when you add Ryan Maher, Jake Rowe, Will Brandon and Anthony Delgenio, they just look unbeatable out there. Their coverage and communication has been great.”
But Melrose’s attackers scored when they needed to. Melrose took a 5-0 lead at halftime behind the work of Steve Fogarty, Shea Fogarty (2 goals) and Brendan Fennell (2 goals). Leading Melrose overall in scoring was Brady Pitcher with 3 goals.
Wakefield goalie Caden Johnson had 12 saves, and often frustrated Melrose, who nonetheless moved the ball well and drained to the clock to their favor. “I thought Wakefield was good, they have a defensively talented team and can wear you down,” says coach James. “Burlington was also talented. Now, we’re looking forward to the larger competition.”
Melrose struck first at 9:06 in the first when Steve Fogarty found the net. His brother Shea Fogarty scored as the first period ticked away, and Brendan Fennell flew in from the right wing and ripped one home to make it 3-0. Shea Fogarty and Jake Rowe had some lights out defense that helped Melrose maintain a 3-0 shout at the end of the first. The second quarter was a battle of possessions between the two teams, with both defensive ends of the field deadlocked for first six minutes of play until Fennell scored to make it a 4-0 game. Brady Pitcher took over from there, scoring twice right before halftime and in the third to make it a 6-0 contest. One minute later Liam Maher nailed a bounce shot into the net to increase that lead to 7-0.
Wakefield would finally score in the third with Max Dimella reached the net while Melrose defense, led by Steve Fogarty and Liam Maher, shut down scoring attempts. In the opening minutes of the fourth, Melrose’s Brady Pitcher, on an assist by Brendan Fennell, scored again for a hat trick. Wakefield’s Eric Keith scored the Warriors final goal and Shea Fogarty finished it up for Melrose to make it 9-3.
While coach James lauded his defense, he also pointed to the overall efforts of Matt Frawley in the last few contests. “We had to switch him to defense from middle, and now back. I think he’s had about 11 goals in 3 games. He’s just an unselfish player with a great presence on the field. He’s really stepped it up at the right time.”
Melrose has a busy week ahead. They are expected to play Saturday and possibly Monday as they aim for an ML 12 title. Beyond that is the MIAA playoffs which are expected to commence late next week. Melrose has the legs to make a good playoff run, and that could put them playing well into the end of June.
“That’s the plan,” quips coach James. “Let’s go deep and play right into Fourth of July weekend.”
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