WESTBROOK—Westbrook briefly led – the Blazes went up 3-1 on a Josh Cavallaro goal late in the first – vs. visiting Portland on Wednesday evening, May 29. But the Bulldogs are No. 2 in A North for good reason, and needed little time to come from behind, overtake and ultimately defeat their hosts 12-5.
“We started pretty good,” Westbrook head coach Pete Lyons said. “Then they started dominating us on faceoffs, and for whatever reason we inexplicably couldn’t clear the ball.”
As mentioned, the Blazes’ turned in their strongest stretch at the start of the contest: Bulldog Grant Jacobson, sure, he opened the scoring just over a minute in, but Westbrook defended admirably and capitalized on a trio of opportunities in response.
Drew Clark added the team’s first, firing from the top-left of the Portland box, at 7:02. Gabe Martin nearly added their second on a quick redirect at the right post roughly three and a half minutes later, but Bulldogs’ keeper Owen Dionne got the jump on the shot. 30 seconds after that, though, Martin did convert, turning-and-firing from the top-right for 2-1. Finally, with 2:30 or so on the clock, Cavallaro pulled the trigger from in close, just off the left post. 3-1.
Really, it looked like Westbrook held all the cards just then – or, at least, some of them. Enough of them to keep the contest interesting. Alas, a two-goal advantage in lacrosse is nothing to write home about, and the Bulldogs regrouped in short order. Early in the second, Portland balanced the scoreboard, and midway through – on an Evan Bay strike – they inched ahead, 4-3.
“They’re a terrific riding team,” Lyons said. “They’re well coached. They play all aspects of the game. Their No. 9, he kind of overmatched us – he had a terrific game…We gave them a tussle, until we stopped being able to control faceoffs and clear the ball.”
The Blazes would net just two more points in the game, a stark contrast to their offensive success in the opening quarter, and a testament to the Bulldogs’ abilities to adjust. Martin scored Westbrook’s fourth of the night with three minutes to play before the break, reeling in a pretty Cavallaro pass from the top of the zone, then turning and firing past Dionne from inside.
Come halftime, Westbrook only trailed by two, 6-4. The Blazes were still in it: A major upset still lingered in their sights. They were in it as well when Clark tallied their fifth notch deep in the next quarter, since Portland by that time had piled up eight, and 8-5 is a mere three-goal discrepancy. If two goals is nothing to write home about in lax, neither is three.
But the Bulldogs took over from there, choking off any chance Westbrook had of surging, of claiming a come-from-behind W. Portland hashed the last four of the game, thoroughly controlling for 12-5 result.
Those numbers don’t reflect the performance Blazes netminder Christian Childs turned in. Childs – not a netminder by trade – logged a number of quality saves, and warrants mention.
“Our goalkeeper, Christian, he made some terrific saves,” Lyons said. “He started the season as an attackman. But he’s a Captain, he’s a leader, and he stepped up and stuck the goal, and he’s done a nice job for us. And we didn’t have another answer for goal. It’s the most important position on the field, and we’ve struggled with it.”
Lyons took a moment to applaud some of his other boys as well: “Josh always does a nice job,” he said of Cavallaro. “Shaun White is terrific. He picks up ground balls; he worked on the faceoff for a while. Brayden Demers did a great job as a defensive middie, helped neutralize their No. 19 – their No. 19 is a terrific player.”
“It’s a great group of kids,” Lyons said. “They’ve fought and clawed. We’ve been overmatched all year. We have a roster of, whatever, 16 kids total in the program. But no whining, and we get to play again tomorrow, so we’re hoping to have some fun.”
Westbrook slipped on the loss to 1-10; the team’s lone win to that point had come 15-4 over Noble. Happily, the Blazes picked up a second win when Morse came to town on Friday the 30th for a makeup bout. Westbrook bested the Shipbuilders 14-12; alas, their 2-10 regular season plants them in 15th for the spring, well outside the playoffs.
Portland, meanwhile, now 11-1, enters the bracketing looking sharp.
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Westbrooker Josiah Dedrick vies on the faceoff X.
Gabe Martin jets upfield for the Blazes.
Cooper Mullett defends for the Blazes.
Tristan Rost tracks the action.
Josh Cavallaro lays into a Bulldogs opponent.