ALLSTON - Winning state championships never gets old for Duxbury. They also don't come too easy either. The mark of a great team is being able win all kinds of games, especially one in your opponent truly makes you work for it.
Sam Sweet had a hat trick, Will Siefert had two goals and an assist and the top-seeded Dragons survived a fourth-quarter comeback attempt and held on for a 10-8 victory over No. 6 Needham in the Div. 1 state final Wednesday night at Harvard Stadium.
"I can't even remember the first half. I think we were ahead, joked Duxbury coach Chris Sweet afterward. "We stuck to the gameplan, we did what got us here. Needham battled back in the second half and they made a game of it. They are athletic, they're well coached and they are scrappy. They don't give up. That's why the score was that close at the end."
It looked like a potential runaway as Duxbury (23-2) put together a 5-1 run from the end of the second quarter through the third and opened up a 10-4 lead. As he has been all year, Henry Narlee was dominant at the faceoff X and won all 11 draws in the first half and the Dragons were able to turn those possessions into goals.
Sweet got Duxbury rolling after a clutch save from Henry Buonagurio, who ran the ball near midfield himself, dished it to midfielder Chris Williams, who in turn fed Sweet for the transition goal. On the Dragons next possession, Siefert drew a double team from the Needham (16-6) defense and gave Jon Gomer a perfect dump-off pass for an open look at the cage,. Sweet capped the first quarter with his second tally, assisted by Paul Hellar, as the Dragons built a 3-0 advantage.
Needham sophomore Mikey Panepinto got his team on the board on its first possession of the second quarter, but got a quick response as Siefert fired a spinning, low shot through for Duxbury. Nico Panepinto, who turned in monster performance, scored the first of his four goals at 5:10, but Seamus Connelly came right back off a Narlee faceoff win for the Dragons. Nico Panepinto added a man up goal for the Rockets and Paul Hellar snapped in one in the final minute of the half for Duxbury, who took a 6-3 lead into the break.
The Dragons took control in the third, outscoring Needham by a 4-1 count on goals from Siefert, Sweet, Connelly and Williams, while limiting Needham to a lone Nico Panepinto snipe.
"We just had to work with what they gave us," Sam Sweet explained. "They came out in kind of a hybrid zone - almost half man, half zone - and they slide adjacent so we had to adjust to that,. Luckily I was at the end of some of those plays and was able to finish them. Quick ball movement was the key to it. "
From that point on, things got really interesting. Rather than pack it in on the big stage against the state's most dominant team, the Rockets instead dug in their heels and went to work on a comeback. Mark Riley got it started after a James Caruso faceoff win in the first minute, then Nico Panepinto made a strong drive for the crease through the defense and stuck in his fourth.
A cavalcade of penalties ensued after that score, leaving Needham with a five-on-three situation that they cashed in as Mikey Panepinto fed Caruso for a score at 7:13. Ninety seconds later, Riley took a shot from up top that was altered by a defender, but the ball went right to Timmy Parlato, who scooped the ground ball and scored to make it a 10-8 game with 5:53 remaining.
"This is a game that's all about momentum," said Needham coach Dave Wainwright. "We were able to capture some and we rode it well. On defense, we changed up three different times how to go after them and we figured out that we just had to go play some man to man and try and take the ball away. We were able to create some turnovers and pressure them and that gave us some opportunities."
The Dragons managed to regain their composure and the defense locked things down with a little help from a couple of highlight-reel saves by Buonagurio, and were able to close out the game for the championship.
Adding to the special moment was watching Chris and Sam Sweet pose together for pictures while holding the championship plaque. The father-son dichotomy can be a difficult ocean to navigate, but the Sweet's have handled the whole situation with nothing but grace and class.
"It's pretty cool. I wouldn't ask for it any other way," Sam Sweet described. "Kids don't always get to spend this much time with their Dad and I've been lucky for that. To do it like this and come out win all these games together, its really cool."
Added Chris Sweet, "I wouldn't trade it for anything. To be out here with Sam and to get to be with him every day on the field is a father's dream. It's been hard at times. I have to treat him like the rest of the guys. But as his father, Im extremely proud of him. I'm sad it's over but its time for him and his classmates to move on in life."