Melrose stuns Watertown 11-10 to secure 4th straight postseason
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — It was down to the wire for the Melrose High Red Raider lacrosse team who secured their way into playoffs on Thursday, May 21 with a close 11-10 win over Watertown (12-3) at Victory Field which now returns Melrose to their fourth straight entry in the MIAA Div. 2 North playoffs.
Melrose counted on strong offense from Ryan McDermott, who had 5 goals, and Jack Seibert, who had 3 goals and 3 assists. At the net, Melrose’s Connor Locke tallied 12 saves including a critical scoop in the waning minutes of the game when Watertown threatened to tie things up.
“This was our best game of the season and Watertown is a tough team with a strong senior class but we had control of most of the game,” reports Melrose coach Matt James. According to the coach, Melrose’s second half effort turned the game in their favor. “We won most of our ground balls, forced penalties on their side and just slowed the pace to where we could control it.”
In fact Watertown went up 3-1 in the first period in what was a highly defensive game between both Raider teams. At the end of one Melrose was down 3-1 but responded with offense what narrowed the gap at 4-3 by halftime, thanks in part from goals by McDermott, among his five of the night. “In the first half, we tried to do too much, we allowed dirty goals, but by the second half we were scoring effective goals and clearing the ball much better,” says James.
Despite Watertown scoring six, Melrose took control in the second half thanks in part to Mike Doucette, Mike Pedrini and Brian Wagner. James considers the three as having important roles on the team. “Brian has been great on defense, he’s winning ground balls and is doing many things well, certainly filling in for us where we need it. Pedrini is playing both ends for us, he’s such a tough player who is doing so much on the field.” Transitioning Mike Doucette from short stick to long stick has been paying off for the talented senior. “Mike’s helped stabilize our offense and has made a difference in our last few games.”
As the close game boiled down to the final minutes, it was Seibert who rolled and snuck a goal past the Watertown goalie for Melrose’s final score to give them an 11-8 edge. Thanks to Melrose’s Connor Locke at the net, who made a potentially game-saving grab with less than a minute to go, Melrose was able to fend of their rival Raiders when they edged closer to 11-10, stalling until the horn signaled.
Now, Melrose is on to a very familiar place: Playoffs. There are only a few athletes on the team who haven’t already battled in postseason for Melrose. “With the exception of a few freshman, every one of our players dressed for playoffs last year,” says their coach. “They’ll be ready.”
After last season, when Melrose was one of the teams to beat in all of Division 2, this year has been about working with the strengths on the field and teaching players new techniques, including a more sophisticated offense. “We’re doing things right on the field now,” says James. “Our recent games against Watertown and Hamilton-Wenham have been some of our best work of the season, we’ve adjusted to find the right system that works.”
Melrose will look to continue that trend as they enter MIAA Div. 2 North playoffs and power seedings are revealed at the end of this week. Look for playoff brackets to be announced this Friday, May 29. Fans are encouraged to visit www.miaa.net for up to date playoff information.
1 Wakefield 14-4 0.78
2 Beverly 14-6 0.70
3 Malden Catholic 10-7 0.59
4 Burlington 11-7 0.61
5 Tewksbury 13-7 0.65
6 Marblehead 12-6 0.67
7 Melrose 8-7 0.53
8 Winchester 8-10 0.44
9 Dracut 9-9 0.50
10 Gloucester 6-12 0.33
11 Danvers 4-12 0.25
12 Shawsheen Valley 10-7 0.59
13 Wilmington 3-13 0.19
14 NE Metro VoTech 8-5 0.62
15 Greater Lowell 9-9 0.50
16 Everett 0-4 0.00
17 Lynn-Vocational 0-16 0.00