Warriors fight to the end in Billerica

Jun 11, 2018 by

Wakefield falls 7-4 in D2N quarterfinals

HEAD COACH Andrew Lavalle (right) and assistant coach Dan Flynn thank their players for a great season. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Published in the June 11, 2018 edition.

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

BILLERICA — The 2018 Wakefield lacrosse team was never short on heart.

ALEX JOLY scored two goals against Billerica in the D2N quarterfinals on Friday. (Dan Pawlowski Photo)

Learning to play without three key players who would be out for the season before it started, the Warriors fought through early-season adjustments and even when the injuries mounted to five or six by the time Wakefield played No. 2 Billerica in the quarterfinals on Friday, going quietly was never an option.

The Warriors took a 3-2 lead after one quarter, but a combination of Billerica’s attack slowly starting to wear down all three Wakefield levels and a superhuman effort from the home team’s goalie, Justin Guinane in the 4th quarter, finally tipped the scales for a 7-4 Billerica victory.

“I’m really proud of the way these guys played,” said Wakefield head coach Andrew Lavalle after the game, warding off waves of friends, family and his middle school students. “The effort was there the entire time. I thought after a couple of goals there would be a little quit in us but not today.”

The Warriors won the first quarter, no easy task on Billerica’s home field.

Senior Alex Joly scored two of Wakefield’s first three goals as the visitors took a 3-2 lead after one. Sophomore Mason Brennan scored Wakefield’s other goal.

Joly’s second occurred after freshman defenseman Matt Petitto scooped up a ground ball and found junior Luke DiMella, who made the final pass to Joly. Joly’s success on the attack this season felt like a metaphor for the team. Typically a defenseman, the senior turned himself into a playmaker and a strong finisher to help the Warriors compensate for injuries.

In the second quarter, Wakefield survived two man-down situations as their defense held strong, led once again by senior goalie Ryan Chambers and senior defenseman and captain, Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Plenty of other defensemen stepped up in this one, including Petittio, Cam Souza, Dan Cataldo and defensive midfielders Thomas Harrington and Zach Brissette.

Billerica would finally tie it at 3 before the halftime whistle.

The home team came out of the locker with a burst of intensity that threatened to put Wakefield out of it, as Billerica scored two goals within the first three minutes of the quarter.

A three-goal deficit was imminent when Chambers made a signature stop with 7:30 left in the quarter. The Warriors put together a nice possession and DiMella capitalized with a goal with 4:18 left to make it 5-4.

Just as the 3rd was about to end, Billerica scored on a bounce shot that was deemed in the net before the clock hit zeros, even though no time showed on the scoreboard. It was one of quite a few difficult calls for the road team (Joly had a first-half goal called back after it was deemed he was in the crease, but a push was called on Billerica).

Protecting a two-goal lead in the 4th, Billerica’s Guinane went to work robbing Wakefield goal-scorers multiple times as a battle of defensive attrition was waged.

The home team would get a key goal to make it 7-4 with 4:54 left. The Warriors continued to fight and certainly left it all on the field, earning high praise from both fan bases, and both coaching staffs.

Lavalle knew his alma mater would be difficult to beat, as Billerica was moved from Div. 1 to Div. 2 this year, but even with a short bench, Wakefield never gave up, a trait that fits well the identity of this senior class, whether it was those on the field like Chambers, Cataldo, Drago, Fitzpatrick, Guida, Joly, Keegan and Brissette, or those who were right with them on the sideline, like captain Dylan Frank, Devin O’Brien, Nolan Collins, Alec Passacantilli and Dan Kerrigan.

“Our senior guys showed me a lot of heart and a lot of pride,” said Lavalle. “It was really a great game by everybody; they all contributed and that was huge.”

It’s not about moral victories, but about the fact that these Warriors know how hard they worked and what they earned this season. It takes a lot of heart to earn that, and even more to recognize it. 

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