Wahconah Rolls into State Quarter-Finals
DALTON, Mass. – Fifteen minutes into Saturday’s Division 4 State Tournament game, the Wahconah boys lacrosse game was in the lead but not quite in control.
But with 8 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter, Devin Lampron set up Billy O’Neill for a goal to make it 4-2, and Wahconah scored the next six goals en route to an 18-5 win over Manchester Essex.
Caden Padelford scored seven goals and set up two more, and Joe Massaro made 14 saves as third-seeded Wahconah (19-1) advanced to the state semi-finals in a rout.
But it was anything but a rout in the early going.
In fact, Wahconah did not score its first goal until nearly eight minutes into the game, and when Ben Difluri scored in the third minute of the second quarter, the Hornets got within a goal of hosts at 3-2.
Wahconah coach Joe O’Neill said the key was putting a focus on distributing the ball.
“We stopped playing one-on-one lacrosse and started moving the ball, started sharing the ball,” he said. “That’s when we’re dangerous.”
Padelford completed his hat trick with a man-up goal midway through the second, and just nine seconds later, Billy O’Neill found the back of the net off a Noah Poirier faceoff win for one of his five goals and a 6-2 lead.
Wahconah pushed the margin to 10-2 by half-time as Padelford put home two more goals in the last two minutes of the second quarter.
Massaro, who pitched a shutout in Wahconah’s state tournament opener earlier in the week, made 11 saves in the first half on Saturday.
“He made some big stops, he clears the ball really well, he’s the backbone of the defense,” Joe O’Neill said.
“He’s the kind of kid who, over the course of the season, his confidence builds. He’s always been big for us in big games.”
The Hornets opened the scoring in the second half, but Billy O’Neill cashed in an assist from Padelford to make it 11-3 and start another six-goal run for Wahconah, which led by 13 going to the fourth.
Poirier dominated the faceoff spot in that third quarter, winning six of eight opportunities to give Wahconah a big advantage in possessions.
Jonah Smith had a hat trick in the win. Lampron finished with two goals and two assists, and Rylan Padelford had a goal and an assist to balance out the scoring.
Wahconah moves on to host sixth-seeded Lynnfield in the quarter-finals. Lynnfield advanced on Saturday morning with a 14-9 win over Advanced Math and Science of Marlborough.