Cheverus boys’ lacrosse coach Deke Andrew wasn’t even sure his team would be in the 2009 Western Class A playoffs prior to getting confirmation from the final Heal Points standings.
If that was a pleasant surprise, imagine how Andrew felt Tuesday after his Stags put forth a superb effort, leading from start to finish in a 10-2 preliminary round win over Noble in a game that was moved to the turf field at Deering High School due to bad weather.
Cheverus jumped out on top with three goals in the first period, turned it up in the second half, got a highlight reel goal from its goalie (really), and pulled away for the victory to advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal round at No. 2 Scarborough.
“That was great,” said Andrew. “I thought we really showed energy we haven’t had in awhile. We put a little pressure on defensively and got ground balls. Our goalie did a nice job. It was nice to get some younger guys in the game.”
The Knights ended their year at 5-8.
The Stags enjoyed a three-game winning streak at midseason, but dropped their final five games against a very challenging slate. Cheverus still managed to earn the No. 7 seed and a game with a Noble squad it beat 13-4 on the road May 15, but had no prior playoff history against.
The Knights hung tough in the early minutes thanks in large part to junior goalie Adrian Ryan. Finally, with 5:36 to go in the opening stanza, Cheverus senior Ryan McQuaid (from senior Doug Macgillivray) scored to get things started. Junior Brendin Lambert and senior Nate Lawson added unassisted tallies and the Stags were up 3-0 after one.
Just seven seconds into the second period, freshman Matt Morris (from senior Matt Wilson) beat Ryan to make it 4-0. Midway through the quarter, Noble finally got on the board when Chris Allen scored unassisted. Wilson’s unassisted goal with 13.3 seconds remaining made it 5-1 Cheverus at the half.
The Stags had a 21-5 edge in shots and grabbed 27 ground balls in the first 24 minutes. They opened things up further in the second half.
McQuaid scored with 6:21 left in the third quarter to make it 6-1. Then, 37 seconds later, senior Justin Sheehan got everyone’s attention, racing all the way in from his goalie position to fire a shot. Initially it appeared as if his rare bid would be denied as Ryan made the save, but Sheehan snatched up the rebound and shot again, this time firing the ball into the net for a 7-1 advantage.
“Did he really score?” Andrew marveled. “That’s kind of how we play. We don’t let him do just anything, but our goalie and defensemen do go over midfield. He’s played since a freshman and made the right decision.”
McQuaid (from Macgillivray), Macgillivray (unassisted) and sophomore Evan Jendrasko (unassisted) followed with goals to make it 10-1 after three.
Noble accounted for the 10-2 final when Andrew Myers (from Nick Grant) scored with 8:36 to go.
Eight different Stags scored in the game. McQuaid led the way with three goals. Sheehan stopped seven shots. Cheverus had a 37-20 shots advantage and grabbed 57 ground balls (paced by eight from Jendrasko).
Ryan made 15 saves for Noble.
“I thought their goalie did a nice job,” Andrew said. “They’re obviously young like we are.”
Cheverus will next visit defending Class A champion Scarborough (8-4), the No. 2 seed, Thursday. On May 20, the Stags lost 12-4 at home to the Red Storm. The teams have never met in the postseason.
“(Scarborough’s) good,” Andrew said. “They’re probably a little more skilled than we are. No one expects us to win, but I think it’s a good matchup. I’m happy.
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at email@example.com.