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No senioritis for Acton-Boxborough boys’ lacrosse

Joe Cormier, left, and Jack Gilligan go over a fallen Beverly player after a loose ball. Acton-Boxborough boys' lacrosse v. Beverly.

Jon Chase for the Boston Globe

Joe Cormier, left, and Jack Gilligan go over a fallen Beverly player after a loose ball.

NEWTON — The game was essentially locked up by halftime, but the Acton-Boxborough Regional boys never dozed off.

Newton South fell behind early, never really gained any traction, and the Colonials cruised, 13-2, in a take-care-of-business-and-move-on game Monday afternoon.

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Then why, with 12 seconds left, was one of Acton-Boxborough’s best players, senior midfielder Scott Rogers , calling for the ball and trying to rally his team to make one last offensive push downfield?

“We’re just learning from the mistakes that we’ve made in the past,” said classmate Thomas Cotter . “Acton-Boxborough lacrosse has not always been a powerhouse.”

The Colonials didn’t qualify for the postseason in 2010, and they were knocked out in the tournament quarterfinals in 2011 and again last spring.

Last year was the most disappointing.

With a pair of elite talents in Kyle Soroka and Tyler McKelvie , the Colonials had the highest-scoring offense in Eastern Massachusetts and earned the No. 2 seed following an electric regular-season performance.

After an easy first-round win against Chelmsford, the Colonials showed up for their quarterfinal game distracted by thoughts of graduation and summer. They got bounced from the tourney by Boston College High, a team that had lost eight of its regular-season games and barely made the playoffs.

This spring, the Colonials, 16-3 through Monday, are determined not to lose sight of their goal again as they head into the postseason.

“We get out at the end of this week,” said Cotter, who, like the rest of the seniors, will be done with school on Friday and collects his diploma on June 7. “The biggest thing is staying focused, trying to make the most of it, not letting the seniors slide, and keeping the intensity.”

Coach Pat Ammendolia has the team to do it.

Two of his captains this spring, Rogers and goalie Ricky Kronenwett , spent at least a portion of last season watching from the sidelines as the Colonials hit an all-time high mark for the program.

Kronenwett, who was in his first varsity season, was told he’d get a chance at some point, but the starting job wasn’t available.

Five games in, Konrenwett had his first chance between the pipes and gave it his all.

“I got in and I’ve stayed in since,” he said.

“Rick has been the backbone of our entire team,” said Cotter, who had 55 goals through Monday. “He’s a calming presence, just knowing he’s back there. He has a quick memory. He learns from mistakes and moves on; doesn’t let anyone get in his head.”

And then there’s Rogers, whose playing time last spring is something Ammendolia admits having some regrets about.

At 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds, Rogers had the mold of a player doomed to be overlooked.

“He didn’t play much at all last year,” Ammendolia said. “He was like an odd-man out.”

“I understood,” Rogers said.

Riding the bench served as a learning experience for Rogers.

“So at the end of last year, I sit down with all the underclassmen,” said Ammendolia, who has turned the program around in the six years he’s been at the helm, “and I told him, ‘Scott, you’re going to be our guy.’

“It was his time, his squad. And we told him it’s going to be his and he’ll have to be huge for us. And that was in June of last year. And he did some summer things, working as a hockey guy. In any sport, if you’re playing other sports it’ll make you a better lacrosse player. He had a good hockey season and just used that and has knocked it out of the park for us.”

Even though it took some time to recognize, what Ammendolia saw in Rogers was unmatched speed and athleticism paired with an attitude of someone who wasn’t going to waste his long-awaited chance.

With 23 goals and 26 assists, Rogers has been the center man in the transition and set offenses, where he can dodge past any defender and isn’t afraid to get his uniform dirty. Or bones broken.

“He thinks he’s invincible,” Kronenwett said. “He just charges in there like, ‘I don’t care if he’s 6-foot tall with a 6-foot pole, I’m going through him. Or around him.’

“In an indoor game this winter, one of the Westford dads went up to my dad and he was like, ‘Where have you been hiding No. 4?’ ”

Long-awaited chances are often the ones taken advantage of the most.

There will be no senioritis for these Colonials.

Five boys’ teams to watch in the tournament

Concord-Carlisle: Did anyone over there actually get nervous when the Patriots sat at 5-5 in late April? They’ve since won six of seven, including an overtime victory over Lincoln-Sudbury Regional.

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional: On pure talent alone, the Warriors might have everyone beat.

Needham: The Rockets played a near-perfect postseason last spring, but a sloppy first half against Duxbury in the Division 1 title game cost them. They beat Duxbury this season, and now enter the tournament as the favorite.

Wayland: Taking a squad from 5-12 a year ago to 16-3 this year, new coach Joel Bates has the best defense in Eastern Massachusetts.

Wellesley: No one player on the Raiders is going to steal the spotlight, but they had quietly won 10 in a row entering Wednesday’s season finale against Bridgewater-Raynham.

Five girls’ teams to watch
in the tourney

Framingham: No coach wanted to play Stacey Freda’s squad last postseason. But this time around, the Flyers won’t be stalling.

Franklin: First-year coach Kristin Igoe, a former All-American at Framingham, has forged a defensive unit that ranks third in Eastern Mass., averaging 4.35 goals allowed.

Lincoln-Sudbury Regional: A team loaded with talent that may have underperformed in the first half of the season, the Warriors won’t be an easy knockout.

Medfield: How far can senior goalie Sarah Honan take the defending Division 2 champs?

Needham: Could the Rockets take a double-sweep in boys’ and girls’ lacrosse? The key matchup for coach Beth O’Brien is Leslie Frank and her Westwood squad, which bested Needham, 10-9, earlier this season.

Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at jasonmastrodonato@yahoo.com.

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