Panthers score five unanswered goals to down Cardinal Spellman for first victory of the season.
WHITMAN – It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.
The Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ lacrosse team erased an early two-goal deficit Friday afternoon and notched a 12-6 win over Cardinal Spellman to earn its first victory of the spring.
“To come in here and get a victory [gets] the ship going in the right direction,” W-H head coach Rob White said. “It’s a long season, we’re nowhere near where we can be at the end of it. Against Hingham (17-2 loss), we crawled, Scituate (13-6 loss) we walked and today we ran.”
The Panthers certainly did run … away with it in the second half. After Spellman drew within, 7-6, 1:40 into the third quarter, W-H (1-2) settled down.
With 3:39 remaining in the third period, junior Ryan Downing pushed the Panthers’ lead to 8-6. Senior captain Kyle Nehiley (two goals, two assists) made it a 9-6 advantage 3:25 later with a bullet from in the crease that beat Spellman goalie Sean Berry. The Panthers were not done there.
Junior Shane Ross (two goals, two assists) – from the 21-yard line – took a feed from Nehiley and ripped one past Berry to extend the W-H lead to 10-6 with 9:21 remaining in the game. Classmate Sean Joanis (two goals, two assists) poked home a rebound with 4:04 left to extend the Panthers’ advantage to 11-6.
— Nate Rollins (@n_rollins1) April 13, 2018
“Patience,” White said of the message he relayed to his team at halftime. “We have a set offense and running down and just being hurky jerky, we need to set it up and execute it and once we started doing that, the goals started to come.
With 1:09 remaining, junior Mason Gorman (three goals, two assists) capped off the scoring and a hat trick with a blast that beat Berry, making it a 12-6 final.
“He had patience, he slowed everything down,” White said of Gorman, who received player of the game. “He was instrumental in a number of clears from his position down there at attack, so he was all over the place.”
However, the Cardinals, who defeated the Panthers twice last season, looked to be on their way doing that once again, as two quick tallies in the opening 2:40 sprung them in front 2-0.
Freshman Kyle Hamilton would kick start the W-H offense at the 7:59 mark of the first quarter with his first of two goals, which was followed by back-to-back tallies from Ross and Gorman, pushing the Panthers ahead 3-2.
“Even though we were down in the beginning, everybody was up [and] looked good,” White said.
After Spellman battled back to tie it at 3-3 and then 5-5, the momentum swayed back W-H’s way. With 6:45 remaining in the second quarter, Joanis, with one hand on the stick, snagged a pass from Gorman and drilled it past Berry to give the Panthers a 6-5 lead.
Freshman Aiden McCarthy made it 7-5 in the waning seconds of the first half with an acrobatic shot that somehow found the back of the net.
W-H junior goalie Mario Troiani (22 saves) made a pair of key stops late as part to help maintain the Panthers’ offensive onslaught.
“He’s got the attitude,” White said of Troiani. “We were warming up today and someone hit him in the stomach with a shot and he wasn’t even looking and he didn’t flinch. He’s got the attitude for net. He’s got a short memory.”
The Panthers will be back in action on Thursday, April 19 at 11 a.m. as they play in an annual four-team tournament.
“We’ve got a little mini tournament coming up and then after that I’ve got 60 goals back (with the return of Jake Long and Riley White),” White said. “They were first-line middies for us the last two years, so we’re going to be even more explosive.”