Put aside the frantic final three minutes at Harvard Stadium last week, when the Dover-Sherborn High boys nearly blew a five-goal lead with the Division 3 state title on the line.
Go back to the second quarter, when the Raiders held Cohasset — the highest-powered offense in Eastern Massachusetts during the regular season — scoreless.
The Dover-Sherborn defense played well, but the Skippers had some open looks on net. Some really good ones.
“There was a flurry of great chances right there,” Dover-Sherborn coach Brian McLaughlin said Monday, almost a week after his squad hung on for a 12-10 win to capture a second consecutive state title. “And Ryan Goodall just put the kibosh on that.”
Unfortunately for Cohasset, Dover-Sherborn had an All-American goalie between the pipes.
What else is new?
Over the past seven years, the three goalies to get the main course of playing time for the Raiders have been Garrett Akie (class of 2008), Jeff Williams (2011), and Goodall, who is graduating this spring.
All three have earned high school All-America honors.
“We’ve done pretty good with goaltenders over the years,” McLaughlin said.
That may be the understatement of the year.
Assistant coach Gene Zanella works exclusively with the defensive unit, and spends a large portion of his time with the goalies. While the name may not be familiar, Zanella has been coaching lacrosse locally since 1992.
Zanella churned out his share of All-America goalies as a coach at Framingham High until he left in 2005 to be an assistant at Holy Cross.
With his resume including stints playing goalie at Framingham South High and at Norwich University, Zanella was more than qualified for the college game. But he shifted to Dover-Sherborn after one season, in order to spend more time with his family.
McLaughlin is glad he did.
“He’s invaluable,” McLaughlin said. “He picks up on funny little things. The way he has the kids use the angles, they don’t fly out of the net. They make the correct step. They’re always in a position to make a save.
“Some of the goaltenders you see now jump all around and fly around. He has them very calm in the net. And when the shot comes, they step in the right spot.”
Zanella deflects credit, saying it belongs to the athletes in goal for Dover-Sherborn. But Goodall said he “completely transformed me as a player.”
A little more than a month ago, the Raiders had started to turn a corner, winning two straight after losing three in a row for the first time in five years.
It was smack in the middle of Goodall’s senior season, and he felt like he was just starting to find his groove. Zanella had found a glitch.
“He really settled me down,” Goodall said. “I was all over the place with my form. He brings you back down. Some goalies have great hands, might make great saves with your body, might be a dramatic goalie that gets all the praise.
“We make the saves the right way. The form is what we practice the most. Every day we have a drill to get my form better. Jeff Williams, I backed him up. He had the best form in the state. And I strive to have that every single day.”
Zanella said it was a simple fix.
“Ryan’s always had good hands, but he had a breakthrough this year,” Zanella said. “We were doing a drill, and he just figured out how to step correctly. And once he did that, he just took off.”
Goodall will attend Colorado College, where McLaughlin is sure his latest goalie will continue to develop.
And whoever steps in the cage for the Raiders next year will once again have big shoes to fill.
At Dover-Sherborn, the All-American honor is becoming a ritual.
Medfield inspired by visit
The Medfield boys won the Division East 2 title this season. The Warriors improved to 4-0 in EMass title matches played at Harvard Stadium over the past four years.
But the biggest moment came before the Catholic Memorial game in the second round, when the Warriors had a special visitor.
Taylor Sack , a standout junior athlete from Millis High who was paralyzed from the chest down in a skiing accident in February, gave Medfield a pregame speech to remember after team members volunteered to raise money and run in the Strides for Sack 5k in March.
“He was sitting there in his wheelchair,” said Medfield coach John Isaf , “and he got us fired up.
“He was more poised than the rest of us. For him to show up and address our team, to me it takes a very impressive young man to do that. There’s no doubt that guy is going to be a huge success in life. He just radiated.”
Play pays off for St. John’s
St. John’s High won the overtime faceoff in the Division 2 Central championship game against Grafton, and coach Terry Leary called a timeout almost immediately. He knew the play he wanted.
Junior Drew Smiley took the ball and drove from behind the cage, slid off the wing, and scanned the field.
“It was a dump play,” Leary said.
Sure enough, the Grafton defense smothered Smiley and he dished the ball to junior Kevin Butler , who buried the overtime winner to seal the Pioneers’ third title in five years.
“We thought that play would work,” Leary said.
Determination carries day
John Healy knew his Algonquin Regional girls were determined, after the program graduated one of its more talented senior classes last season. He didn’t know just how determined.
The Tomahawks played their best game of the spring against Shrewsbury High in the Division 1 Central championship match, capped by a four-goal outburst midway through the first half that “took the wind out of their sails,” their coach said.
Algonquin had barely gotten past Shrewsbury in a midseason game, winning 13-12, but the Tomahawks cruised in the rematch, taking an 18-9 victory and their second straight title.
“And we got everyone on the field,” Healy said. “All the seniors were there for the final countdown. It was really nice.”Jason Mastrodonato can be reached at email@example.com.