2018 D2N Semis: Winchester 12, Billerica 5

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by Kevin J. Stone @kstone06

BILLERICA – Back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s the Billerica and Winchester programs were synonymous with the most successful programs in Massachusetts.

The Sachems took home Division 1 state titles in 1999 and 2000 while the Indians claimed one in 2001. On Tuesday night, the two storied programs took the field at the Marshall Middle School with a chance to take another step back towards the top the mountain – albeit a slightly different one – in a Division 2 North semifinal matchup.

Leading by just two at halftime, Winchester exploded for six goals in the third quarter to build an eight-goal lead and then cruised to a 12-5 win.

After losing in the D2 North semifinals last year and winning the sectional title in 2016, before falling in the state semifinals against Medfield, Winchester (16-3) will now face Middlesex League rival Reading in the sectional title game on Friday night at Woburn High School (7:15). Billerica (16-6) has not reached a sectional final since losing to Lincoln-Sudbury in the 2015 Division 1 North championship.

“I’m so proud of our kids,” said Winchester coach John Pirani. “We’re young but this is an extremely hard-working team. We made a couple of adjustments at halftime that made all the difference, and that’s because the kids took the coaching.”

Leading 4-2 at halftime after the offense was hard to come by in the first 24 minutes, the third quarter turned into the Jack Rockhold show as the senior scored three of his four goals in the third to help give Winchester a 10-2 lead heading to the fourth.

Rockhold finished off a quick-stick goal on a feed from Charlie Ward less than two minutes into the third to make it 5-2. 27 seconds later Ward finished off a feed from John Caprini while on the doorstep of the crease to make it 6-2. Rockhold scored again with 9:10 to go in the third making it 7-2 and added another on a low-to-high rip with 7:14 left to push the lead to 8-2.

A bounce shot on the run from Caprini made it a 9-2 game with just under five minutes left, and with just 21 seconds to play in the third Ryan McCarthy let a laser go from high up top to make it 10-2 heading to the fourth.

“We’ve just got guys that are really committed,” said Rockhold. “We talked about some stuff at halftime, guys listened to the coaches and we played more like ourselves in that third quarter.”

Billerica tried to hang around early in the fourth as Matt Milano and Nathan Young each scored in the first three minutes, cutting it to 10-4 with 9:54 to go in the game. A quick-stuck man-up goal for Rockhold – his fourth – on a feed from Caprini pushed the lead back up to 11-4 with 6:03 left.

Things then got out of hand with 4:20 remaining as a skirmish near midfield led to heavy cheap shots on both sides, which in turn led to a near bench-clearing brawl but officials and coaches were able to prevent anything from truly getting out of hand.

After a lengthy delay to sort out penalties Winchester tacked on its final goal with 3:47 to go, an empty net goal for Grant Murray as Billerica tried to pressure the ball. The Indians had one final tally from Pat Quinn with 1:35 remaining.

“We’ve got a great defense and they played great all year long, but our offense has got to put up more than we did today,” said Billerica coach Craig Flynn. “Our guys kept fighting until the end. We lost some guys to injury or that left the team, so for those that stuck it out I’m proud of the effort and we had a great season.”

Billerica trailed just 2-1 after the first quarter but never found any rhythm offensively.

With 1:20 into the game Winchester took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Harry Carpini. With a Sachem in the box for a hold Billerica knotted things up at 1-1 with a short side rip by Quinn off a feed from Tyler Morris.

With 5:25 left in the first Jake Mabardy came from behind the net at X and let a pretty no-look shovel shot go over the shoulder of Billerica goalie Justin Guinane (5 saves) to make it 2-1.

The Sachems went up 3-1 early in the third on a quick-stick goal by Ward with the assist going to Rockhold. For the majority of the quarter, neither team had any great looks but the few Billerica did have we’re stifled by Winchester goalie Matt Suffredini (6 saves). The Indians did break through with 1:30 left in the half as James Einarson let a rocket go off a feed from Quinn to make it 3-2, but Winchester carried its 4-2 lead into halftime thanks to another goal from Mabardy with just 40 seconds left.

The Sachems will now see a familiar face for the Division 2 North title on Friday. Winchester beat Reading 11-6 back on April 27, but with a title on the line, Parini and his team expect everything they can handle.

“We expect 48 minutes of great lacrosse and nothing less,” said Parini.

 

Game Stats

Winchester

Jack Rockhold – 4 goals, 1 assist

Charlie Ward – 2 goals, 1 assist

Jake Mabardy – 2 goals

John Caprini – 1 goal, 2 assists

Harry Caprini – 1 goal

Ryan McCarthy – 1 goal, 1 assist

Grant Murray – 1 goal

Matt Suffredini – 6 saves

 

Billerica

Patrick Quinn – 2 goals, 1 assist

James Einarson – 1 goal

Matt Milano – 1 goal

Nathan Young – 1 goal

Justin Guinane – 5 saves

 

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