Blackstone Valley Comes Back to Edge Wahconah in Quarter-Finals

By Stephen Sports
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DALTON, Mass. -- The Wahconah boys lacrosse team Friday scored seven goals in the first 10 minutes of its sectional quarter-final.
Blackstone Valley Tech allowed just three goals the rest of the way in earning an 11-10, come-from-behind win and a trip to the Central/Western Massachusetts Division 3 semi-finals against St. Bernard’s.
BVT used a 5-0 run that spanned the second through fourth quarters to erase most of a 9-3 Wahconah lead and scored three times in the last five minutes -- the last a Jack Kinsella game-winner -- to pull off an upset of the tournament’s second seed.
Andrew Vasile scored five goals, and Luke Carey and Brady Mulray each scored a pair for the Beavers (17-2). But BVT’s defense was the difference after that first quarter as it held Wahconah (17-2) to 10 goals or fewer for only the fifth time this season.
That defensive performance is even more impressive considering Wahconah’s promising start.
“Defensively, we killed it,” BVT coach Andrew Barksdale said. “We held them off as good as we could. That was some of the best second half defensive play we’ve had. We’re very, very strong defensively. We were finally able to stop them, do what we needed to do to get conversions back on offense.”
Dart Jaggi and Billy O’Neill each scored four times for Wahconah, which got a hat trick from Matt Mathers. Jaggi had all four of his goals in the first half, including back-to-back scores in the second quarter to make it a six-goal lead late in the half.
“Honestly, our confidence got the better of us,” Wahconah coach Joe O’Neill said. “We were rolling to start with, everything was going well. And then, we thought we didn’t have to stay in our system. It hurt us.”
Another thing that hurt Wahconah: the loss of longstick middie Trey Massaro, who left with an apparent arm injury midway through the third quarter with his team up, 9-5.
“Losing Trey, that definitely hurt, hurt us on faceoffs,” O’Neill said. “Even if they’re winning a faceoff, we have Trey coming on a wing, and if it’s a 50/50 ball, usually he’ll come up with it. And we just didn’t have … Ball-handling hurt us, really.”
BVT opened the fourth quarter with three goals in the first 6 minutes, 34 seconds, cutting the margin to 9-8.
Wahconah answered when Jaggi set up O’Neill with a feed from behind the goal to give their team a two-goal cushion.
Blackstone struck back a half minute later with a man-up goal. And 25 seconds after that, Vasile tied the game for the first time since 0-0.
It stayed 10-10 for three minutes. But with 1:16 on the clock, Kinsella scored from deep on the right wing to give the Beavers their first lead of the game.
Blackstone Valley Tech won the ensuing faceoff, but Wahconah got the ball back in its end with about a minute left.
With 10 seconds on the clock, O’Neill got roughed up by several BVT defenders, giving Wahconah a man-up opportunity in the closing moments. Wahconah got off a shot with five seconds left that went out over the end line for an offensive possession with four ticks remaining. A last-second shot was turned aside by BVT keeper Adam Kaminski-Miller (eight saves).
Dom Orlandi made eight stops for Wahconah, including four in the third quarter to try to hold Blackstone Valley at bay and protect the lead going to the final period.
Wahconah, which came into the game with a 10-game winning streak, left it with a bad taste after seeing a dream season come to an end. But O’Neill was able to keep things in perspective.
“It was a great year,” he said. “We set a new standard for Wahconah lacrosse for everybody in the future - for future teams to live up to. First time winning Berkshire County. You know, getting the No. 2 seed.”
Then, remembering that the seed came with a bye through the first round of the tournament, he added: “I think that’s what hurt us. We hadn’t played for a couple of weeks.”
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