Melrose advances to semis vs. Reading on Wed.

Posted on: Tuesday, June 22, 2021


MELROSE—In the MIAA Division 2 North Quarterfinal game on Monday night, the Melrose Red Raider lacrosse team cruised past Winchester with the help of their talented offense to win 14-6.

Melrose led the entire game, and to Melrose coach Matt James, this win instills a lot of hope for his Red Raider squad. “I think that this is who we are,” says James. “Hopefully, we keep on playing and keep on being who we want to be. I hope this is who we are.”

THE MELROSE Red Raider lacrosse team advances to the D2 North semifinals after a 14-6 win over Winchester on Monday. Melrose (12-1) will travel to Reading to face the undefeated Rockets on Wednesday at a time TBD. (Raj Das

If there was one point to emphasize from Monday night’s game, it was the abilities of senior captain Brendan Fennell. Fennell recorded four goals and multiple assists, as it seemed the Winchester defense could not shut him down. Fennell broke the ice early in the first quarter to get the Red Raider momentum going. Twenty second later, attacker Brady Pitcher sent a slapshot past the Winchester goalie to give Melrose a 2-0 lead. Fennell struck again, using his athleticism to move past two defenders and earn another goal. When asked about Fennell, James laughed and said, “Brendan Fennell is a bad man.”

​Melrose’s offense was also spurred by Matt Dussault and Liam Maher. Like Fennell, Dussault also recorded four goals. Despite being a midfielder, Dussault has the scoring abilities of an attacker but is also very reliable on the defensive end.

This late in the season, Melrose’s captains have shown that they are up for the challenge. Fennell and Dussault combined for eight goals, while fellow captains Ryan Maher and Will Brandon were dominant on defense. The coach credited both defensemen with limiting the talented Winchester offense to only six goals. Says James, “I thought Ryan Maher was a great leader today and I thought Will Brandon was a tone setter on defensive end.”

Late in the third quarter, Winchester started to heat up, scoring back to back goals to bring the score to 11-5. As they entered the fourth quarter, Dussault took matters into his own hands, scoring two quick goals to give Melrose a comfortable 8 goal lead and bringing the score to 13-5. Coach Matt James credited a large part of their offensive success to getting back to the basics, such as winning faceoffs. “On the offensive side we were being smart and it was an elite effort,” continues James. “Tommy Pino dug in and made one of our weaknesses a strength in faceoffs.”

Melrose goalie Frank Capaldo has been strong for the Red Raiders all season. Coach James praised his goalie and expressed particular excitement about his most recent games, as he has stepped up against the tough competition. “I thought Frank Capaldo was nails in net. Another great game and he’s getting hot and playing his best against the best competition.”

For Melrose’s final goal of the game, Fennell sent a quick pass to Liam Maher, who sealed the Red Raider win with a shot to the left corner. Fennell and Maher are a great team, and they work really well around the net. Fennell usually draws two defenders towards him while Maher sneaks into the circle, ready to accept a quick pass from Fennell and shoot. This happened three times on Monday night, and Maher scored three goals of his own. This dynamic duo will likely be utilized on Wednesday night, as Melrose will face off against Reading.

Immediately following his team’s game, Coach James went to watch Reading play Burlington, where the Rockets won 10-5. Melrose defeated Burlington twice in late May, with 10-8 and 16-2 wins, but has yet to play against Reading this season.

When asked about his focus for the upcoming game, James replied, “We are just hoping that the kids put the same effort in that they did today on Wednesday. I am hoping to get over to Reading right now and see them play Burlington. I know what we got. We did very well against Burlington. Reading is a very good team too. Both are very, very good. I know practice tomorrow is going to be awesome because they’re hyped up.”

Melrose is scheduled to travel to Reading on Wednesday at a time TBD.