Determination to outwork your opponent can go a long way for a team. The Apponequet High School boys’ lacrosse team is living proof of that.
The Lakers, seeded seventh in the Division II south region, made the Falmouth High Clippers their second victims of the postseason on Tuesday afternoon, June 3, at Fred Toran Field, dominating a low scoring affair that earned the upstart squad a trip to the regional championship game on Saturday afternoon against Hingham High School.
Falmouth entered the game known as a team with prowess on the defensive side of the field. Apponequet came to town and did what Falmouth does, better than Falmouth did it. The Lakers got a couple of huge early saves from keeper Ryan King, who stoned great bids by Robbie Souza and Alex Manos, and used their physical style to swamp everything that the Clippers wanted to do offensively. AHS came just 36 seconds away from shutting Falmouth out completely in their 5-1 road win.
Falmouth head coach Rory Morse was appreciative of what the seventh-ranked team in the region was able to do. He saw a little bit of what Falmouth High has been known for over the years in what the Lakers did.
“We just played Greg Gilbert’s lacrosse teams from 1999 until 2012. That’s exactly what they did to us, what he used to do to teams. We saw the film on them, we knew exactly what they had. They took good athletes and they were going to play you so hard. They were flying around, high pressure, and they were going to be a better athlete than you,” Morse said. “Those guys just played their hearts out, and you could tell. I mean, yeah, we’re probably better lacrosse players, but it doesn’t matter in the tournament, as everyone knows. These guys aren’t sneaking up on anyone in the tournament. Sandwich knows, we knew, we talked to people, we knew what they had. They’re just really athletic, and they took it to us today.”
Morse said that the Clippers had not faced defensive pressure the way that the Lakers unleashed it. “They run two slides at once, which is amazing to see. They really pack it in, it’s not exactly a zone, it’s a double slide, I think, and it worked really well. We didn’t have any answers for it today.”
Falmouth’s best chances came in the second quarter, on the bids by Souza and Manos. Other than those, for most of the game, the Clippers were hard pressed to get anything going, even in the third quarter when they had a two-man advantage for 30 seconds due to a pair of penalties against AHS.
“I don’t think we ever got it going, and when we did, their goalie made saves,” Morse said.
Matt Demetrio, the Lakers’ first year head coach, was ecstatic about what his team was able to accomplish, and credited the play of his defense, especially King in goal, for being the difference.
“If they scored one or two there, it’s a completely different game…it would have changed the whole game and would have made us play a different game,” the coach said.
Neither team did much in the first quarter, but Apponequet scored midway through the first period on a nice shot by Ben Teixeira. Later in the period it looked like Teixeira had gotten another, but his shot hit the side post and then bounced up and off of the crossbar, but stayed out.
In the second period, the Lakers got two more. The first was on a nice catch-and-shoot by Corey Pemberton from 10 feet in front of George Armstrong. The second one was a transition goal. Manos and Souza both came close with a man-up advantage shortly after that, but King stood tall.
In the second half, the Lakers upped their physicality and refused to allow the Clippers to find the smallest of creases in their defense. A turnover by Falmouth midway through the period led to a fast break for AHS that Austin Ferreira cashed in to make it a 4-0 game.
Westin Cohen scored just 1:30 into the final period for the fifth Apponequet goal as he cut across the middle. That took the wind completely out of Falmouth’s sails.
The Clippers avoided being shut out with 36 seconds to go. Matt Katon bounced one under the crossbar to make it 5-1, but FHS had no time to make anything else happen.
“We’re definitely not the strongest lacrosse team in the state of Massachusetts, but we are a bunch of athletes and the kids just buy in and listen,” Demetrio said. “If you have athletes, and you can run around guys, you’re going to be a dangerous team.”
The coach said that he’s excited about his upstart program and what it’s done in the past week, knocking off the two Cape Cod powers.
“We’re enthralled, this is the most success that the program’s ever had. It’s a testament to the kids that we have. I put the systems in place, but it’s their job to execute and they executed it to the fullest capacity,” he said. “Hingham’s the No. 1 seed for a reason, but what the heck, we’re playing with house money now.”