This year’s first November weekend started off in fine fashion. For the second straight year, we were able to outlast 3d’s committed team in our annual Committed Game by an overtime final of 10-9. The level of play was high on both sides of the ball, and plenty of college coaches gathered to watch the game. All were rewarded with quite a contest.
More importantly, McCrae Williams’s memory was honored for the second straight year, and it meant a lot for all those in attendance to be a part of something larger than the game.
After Saturday, the close games continued. The Clams came out on the right side of some, and the wrong side of others. But if parity is the overall goal of the fall season, it was mission accomplished. Of the 25 games played, 11 were decided by two goals or less (3 ties, 5 one-goal games, and 3 two-goal games).
Our overall weekend #1 record of 12-10-3 was solid, but left some room for improvement. Because of the demands of in-season sports, academics and other priorities, some of the cohesion the older teams had built up throughout the fall seemed to have receded just a bit from its peak last summer. This is not unusual for a first November weekend. The effort and toughness with which the teams played could not be questioned, but some of the decision-making seemed to require just a little refinement and fine-tuning. We expect this to occur in weekend #2.
That said, it certainly won’t get any easier. As was the case last weekend at UMASS, we’ll once again be putting our players who choose to stay at local events in older brackets to ensure heightened competitiveness. This can be a challenging fall strategy, and as a program, we take our knocks doing it sometimes. But our focus always remains longer term, and just as our younger players in CELL compete with the elders, so too do our tournament teams. By the time our teams reach the end of their senior years, we’re always thanked for this. And then there are the top teams, heading down to the NALA tournament in Delaware, names like Sweet Lax and Legacy and the Predators. Anyone in the know certainly knows these names and the others. NALA and the 3d/FLG event on Saturday will be our first true national tests of the fall, and I for one can’t wait to see how we fare.
The three teams at the UMASS Mid-Fall Classic went a combined 3-3-3. In conditions that at times bordered on unplayable due to the rains of the week prior, those in attendance sloshed and slogged their way through the day’s game. Complaints were generally minimal, and highlights surprisingly numerous. In short: those out west made the most of a challenging situation, and are to be commended.
The teams at Mayflower were greeted with more favorable playing conditions, and the scores of the game (and the implementation of the new shot clock) resulted in fast-paced, exciting, and very competitive lacrosse. Each year, Mayflower allows one more Clam team into the fray it seems, and this year the most recent addition, our 2019/2020 team, enjoyed the highest level of success with a record of 3-0. That said, in terms of the number of college coaches watching and the overall level of play, really all teams in attendance were fortunate to be a part of such a successful day. Our overall program record of 8-7 was down a bit from last year, but coaches I spoke to felt both the Mayflower Sunday Invitational and the individual event that preceded ticked upward somewhat considerably in terms of the overall depth of talent in attendance, so that needs to factored into the overall level of success on the day (so too must be the simple bounce-of-the-ball nature of all this; four separate one-goal games were decided in the game’s waning minutes, and just one went our way).
Below are just some of the games that stood out for their competitive level and exciting outcome, whether the ending went in the Clams favor or not.
Games of Note:
Mayflower Invitational: Fighting Clams 2022 defeat FLG 2022 7-5.
We entered this rubber game for the ’22’s with a little trepidation, and with the clear knowledge that this game’s outcome would disproportionately define the overall level of success on the day for the inaugural tournament for our top freshmen. Out of the gate, 3d NE got the best of us in an offensive slugfest. The we responded and trounced a clearly outgunned Boneyard squad. Going up against FLG provided an opportunity for a quality win against an outstanding opponent out of Long Island, one that would leave a great taste heading into weekend #2.
In short, the boys followed a decent first half with their best half of the day. A 3-3 halftime score became a 7-5 final. The boys had earned to right to feel very good on the drive home.
The first player deserving of mention in this one was lefty attackman Chad Palumbo (Nobles) His 5-point total was the highest on the day, for any player on any Clam team. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. As he had all-day, Chad played off of fellow righty attackman Nick Bell (Rivers). The two were a downright dynamic duo in this game just as they were all day long. Despite sitting for much of the second game due to the discrepancy in each team’s ability, Chad (10 points on the day) and Nick (9) were the two high point scorers for the entire Clam program, on any of the eight teams in either Mayflower or UMASS.
Possessions and ground balls were key in this one too.
Face off midfielder Fitz Frechette (St. Sebastian’s) won 10 face offs and lost only three, providing the offense the opportunities they needed. Players such as Liam Falvey (Weston), Tom Goguen (Belmont Hill) and Brian Delduchetto (Weston) were not only outstanding in corralling numerous ground balls, but also sparking transition and stopping our opponents from doing the same.
The breakdown afterward was all smiles. Coaches Fallon and Montenegro knew they had in their new crew something potentially special, and you could tell the players knew it themselves. The Littlenecks program deserves outsized credit for getting this squad ready for the competitive play they’re gonna see as Clams. We grateful for the momentum they created, and we know we can keep it right on rolling!
Mayflower Invitational: Fighting Clams 2020 lose to 3D New England 2020 9-8.
Heading into the weekend this game was one that was circled by not only both sides but by many college coaches as well. With some of the best talent around in the 2020 class all on one field in one place, this was certainly a must watch for everyone in attendance, and given the end line to end line row of college coaches, it showed. Early on the game seemed like a heavy weight boxing match, each team trading blows. Each side brought a tenacity and intensity that is quite rare for the club scene, but when mixed with a high level of skill as it was, always makes for a great game.
Reese Hornstein (St. Mark’s) set the tone from beginning to end; he battled at the faceoff X and inspired his teammates throughout. Pat Thomas (Gunnery) was in cage in the first half and kept the Clams within striking distance, stopping 6 of the 10 shots he saw, many in spectacular fashion. Matching Thomas’s effectiveness in cage was Connor Theriault (NMH/Brown). Connor made key saves in the second half and was an integral part of getting the ball from the D zone into our attacking zone. Playing a very strong defense in front of these goaltenders was defensive leader Ryan Rahbany (Rivers). Ryan, who had been named as an All Star the day prior at the Mayflower individual event, was essentially an eraser whenever he stepped on the field, nearly eliminating his opposing attack man entirely. In the midfield Tommy Miller (Rivers/Villanova) was a workhorse in the truest sense of the word. He was big in the defensive zone as well as clearing the ball into the O zone. Once the ball was settled he helped lead the offense with a goal and an assist. Midfielders, Shane Kilkelly (Oliver Ames), Riley Van Duzer (Rivers/Bryant), and Pat Murphy (Proctor/Vermont), also joined in on the scoring, adding a goal apiece. Michael Lampert (Wayland), a recent addition due to reclassification, immediately settled in as the quarterback of the attack unit. Another player who’d been named as an All Star the day prior, Michael did a great job of dodging with his head up, and his teammates did and even better job of getting to open space so Lampert could find them for good scoring chances.
The immediate chemistry between him and other boded well for the offensive future of this class’s top group. Unfortunately, we came up just short in the end, as a few Clams were stopped on the doorstep in the last couple minutes, preventing an overtime stanza between these two adversaries. It’s inevitable that we will face this team again down the road and we look forward to the challenge whenever that opportunity does present itself.
Mayflower Invitational: Fighting Clams 2019/2020 defeat New England Twisters 2019 5-0.
The Clam 2019/2020’s at Mayflower shined brighter than any other Clam team on Sunday. Not only did they go 3-0, but all their margins of victory were all decisive. Granted, the team could have been bracketed more effectively given the talent they had on roster. But there’s definitely something to be said for taking care of business. This squad did this, and then some.
Their closest game was their middle game, against a fast-improving regional foe from the north shore: the Twisters.
When you hold an opponent scoreless, you must first look at the goaltenders as a starting point for praise. While neither Dan Donahue (Nobles) or Michael Nassif (Millbrook) saw much rubber, their combined 5 saves were a high enough figure to impress. Also statistically perfect in this game was senior face off man Andrew Poynton (Xaverian). Coming off a challenging spring and summer when he battled through a couple injuries, it was great to see Andrew excelling not just in this game, but throughout (side note: he was uncommitted going into this game, but now appears highly unlikely he’ll be uncommitted much longer). The defense was so strong as a unit that I’m going to cop out and say each defenseman deserves praise. Apologies for singling no one out, but the unit deserves uniform praise…they were all great in this game, and throughout the day.
Offensively, the player who stole the show in this one was Jack Theriault (Northfield Mount Hermon). Like the aforementioned Poynton, Jack is also come off a serious knee injury, so it was great to see him out there playing like his old self. He had a slick goal where he faked a backhand shot, then came around the other side, getting the defenseman caught up in the netting in the process, before smoothly stick an accurate righty shot. Jack also had one of the better behind-the-back I’ve seen in quite some time, from distance (maybe 8 yards), and perfectly placed. It was a sight to behold…if he tells you he didn’t know where it was going, don’t believe him.
Outscoring opponents 28-5 over the course of a 3-game event is quite a feat unto itself. This game meant the most though, and this ‘19/’20 squad did exactly what they had to, and decisively took care of business.
UMASS: Fighting Clams 2021/2022 defeat Rhode Island Bulldogs 2021 6-5.
The Clams 2021/2022 squad showed consistent improvement throughout the day and capped off the event with a great come from behind, 9-8 win over the RI Bulldogs. This Clam squad was comprised primarily of 2022’s and was firmed up with few ’21s who proved to be huge contributors especially in the final tilt. Michael Tyler (Duxbury HS) and Nick Campagnone (East Catholic HS) paced the offense with 3G & 1A each and combined to net four of the final six Clam goals of the game. Aidan Walsh (Nashua South HS) was clutch between the lines and at the faceoff X throughout the game. He notched an assist on the game-winning goal scored by the newest Clam on the squad, Grady St. John (Holliston HS). This was St. John’s second tally of the game. This was the first tournament for many Clams on this squad at UMass and watching them continually improve throughout the afternoon was truly gratifying and speaks to a very bright future for the group.
Games of Note (Honorable Mention):
UMASS: Fighting Clams 2020 Tie Coyotes 2020 3-3
Mayflower: Seasoned Clams lose to 3D New England 2019 5-3
Mayflower: Fighting Clams 2021 lose to FLG 2021 6-5
Seasoned Clams (2-1)
L 3-5 vs. 3D New England 2019
W 10-2 vs. LaxPros 2019-2020
W 11-1 vs. Foundations Lax 2019
Fighting Clams 2019/2020 (3-0)
W 9-2 vs. Maine Mussels 2019
W 5-0 vs. New England Twisters 2019
W 16-4 vs. Lakeland Panas Varsity
Fighting Clams 2020 (0-3)
L 3-5 vs. NH Tomahawks 2020
L 8-9 vs. 3D New England 2020
L 4-5 vs. Kings 2020
Fighting Clams 2021 (1-2)
W 11-4 vs. 3D Pacific 2021
L 5-6 vs. FLG 2021
L 1-11 vs. 3D New England 2021
Fighting Clams 2022 (2-1)
L 7-12 vs. 3D New England 2022
W 15-2 vs. Boneyard 2022
W 7-5 vs. FLG 2022
UMASS Fall Invitational:
Fighting Clams 2020 (1-0-2)
T 3-3 vs. Coyotes 2020
W 7-2 vs. Upstate Salt Kings 2020
T 5-5 vs. Seven Hills White
Fighting Clams 2020/2021 (1-1-1)
T 7-7 vs. Penguins 2020
L 9-4 vs. HGR 2020
W 6-2 vs. NH Tomahawks 2020
Fighting Clams 2021/2022 (1-2)
L 2-15 vs. 4 Leaf NE 2021
L 3-7 vs. CT Valley 2021
W 9-8 vs. Rhode Island Bulldogs 2021