WEST ROXBURY – Xaverian thought they were going to have a certain look on offense coming out of the preseason, but an unfortunate injury to Ohio State committed attackman Lukas Buckley (torn ACL in the season opener against BC High) forced the Hawks to have to rethink things on the fly.
A healthy Buckley most certainly would have been one the elite offensive talents in the state this year, so his injury left a big hole in the Xaverian attack. If Tuesday night is any indication, the Hawks will be able to count on several players to step up and shoulder the load.
Sophomore Sean Sperzel and freshman Jared Grier each had hat tricks from the attack position to help Xaverian claim a 12-9 victory over Catholic Conference foe Catholic Memorial at Jim O’Connor Stadium.
Midfielders Will McCarthy and Peter Thorbahn each scored twice and goalie Mike Toomey made several spectacular saves among his 11 in the game for the Hawks (2-2). Curt Bletzer, Colin Casey and Tyler Bogart each scored twice to pace the Knights (2-1).
“I think we were able to settle it down a little bit and start getting our shots and finding a little bit of rhythm,” Hawks coach Tim Gardner explained. “We’re trying to find a way to get guys on the field who are going to work together and try to make up for losing Buckley.
It’s early in the year and we had to find a different way to create a new rhythm; we got into one rhythm in the preseason and obviously losing Lukas it took us a game or two to pick that up again. Offensively I think the guys who needed to step up did and we played a great game there as well.”
Sperzel in particular came through big in the clutch. The Knights had just erased an 8-4 deficit, getting four straight scores from Gunnar McKenzie, Casey, Bogart and Frank Cosolito to tie the game with 7:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Sperzel, a Penn State commit, responded by scoring a pair of unassisted goals to put the Hawks back in front for good.
“We just had to keep pushing the ball down the field,” Sperzel said. “Early on our clear wasn’t working too well so we had to get it down the side through X and then push pipe and eventually it came together at the end.”
Xaverian also received an All-American level performance from defenseman Joe Gaziano, who drew the unenviable task of marking Bogart, the Knights UMass-committed attackman. Bogart put up massive offensive totals at CM two years ago and is back after spending a year at Brewster Academy.
Gaziano, a Northwestern commit for football, was able to use his 6-foot-4, 245-pound frame to play the smaller, quicker Bogart physically and keep the talented attackman from getting the looks he wanted.
“I give all the respect in the world to Tyler,” Gaziano said. “He’s a great player with a great shot and great dodges. My gameplan was to just come out and be physical, get good checks on his hands so he couldn’t get his shot off where he wanted it. It turned out that he was dodging a lot from the side and X so I was able to pin him to one side and work him behind the net.
He got by me a couple of times and that’s just the nature of the beast because he’s a great player but I just tried to be as physical as possible and keep him out of Toomey’s crease.”
The outcome may have been different if not for the first-half play of Toomey in the Hawks cage. Three times Toomey was able to rob the Knights of golden scoring chances from just off the crease, and he made eight of his stops over the first 24 minutes.
“I’ve got to give it to the defense,” Toomey said, modestly deflecting praise. “Even if they got it right on the crease, the defense was right there making the kid nervous. If you make a kid nervous, he’s going to make mistakes and that’s what it came down to.”
Expectations are high for the Knights, perhaps as much or moreso than in 2012 when the program successfully captured its first Catholic Conference title.
CM will score in bunches with one of the most talented attack units in the state in Bogart, McKenzie and McCarthy, as well as the supremely talented Cosolito and Bletzer in the midfield.
Goalie Joe Zegarelli shook off a tough start by having a monster third quarter, making five clutch saves in the frame to give his team a chance to rally.
The key to realizing those expectations will come in doing the little things, which is where the Knights may have cost themselves on this particular evening.
“I think overall the whole night, they beat us on ground ,” CM coach Kevin Lynch admitted. “That was the difference in the game. Every time there was a 50-50 scrum, Xaverian seemed to keep coming up with those and it added up to where we weren’t able to finish or catch up in the end because they beat us to a lot of .”