WORCESTER — St. John’s Prep took control of the Division 1 boys’ lacrosse state final with ball control.
After a tight first half at Worcester State against rival BC High in a rematch of last year’s championship game, Prep won 8 of 10 faceoffs in the second half, and used a patient and potent offense to pull away for an 11-5 victory to clinch a second consecutive state title.
“We had a good halftime speech,” Prep junior attack Jimmy Ayers said. “We knew we had the players to get the job done, we just had to execute. We talked about how when you have the ball, make sure you cherish that and put it in the net. Being able to control the ball in that third quarter was kind of the difference-maker for the game.”
Top-seeded Prep (22-1) took an early 3-0 lead but No. 3 BC High (17-6) came right back with three straight goals, including tallies by Tim Rogers and Will Emsing in the final 24 seconds of the first quarter.
Early on, hardly anything could separate the Catholic Conference foes, playing for the seventh time in two seasons, and they went into halftime tied, 4-4, with faceoff wins split closely.
In the third quarter, Prep faceoff ace Chris Esposito won 4 of 5 draws, and his teammates capitalized with early goals from Will Sawyer and Ayers (two goals), followed by scores from Harlan Graber (three goals) and Charlie Wilmot (three goals) to open an 8-4 lead.
“I feel like we’ve played BC High more than anyone else by far, and it’s great,” said Prep coach John Pynchon, a 2001 graduate of the Danvers school.
“They have great athletes, Marcus [Craigwell] is a great coach, and they stress us in a bunch of different ways. They made a bunch of plays but our game plan was sound and the guys were able to stick with it.”
With seven senior defenders, Prep was able to lock off some of BC High’s top weapons, including star junior Emsing (goal, assist). Connor Kelly, Tim Haarmann, and Christian Rooney led the charge with Jackson Delaney and Tyee Ambrosh coming up with some key turnovers.
Prep’s balanced attack proved too much for BC High’s capable defense and red-hot goalie, Andrew Toland, as six players recorded multiple points, including junior Lucas Verrier (three assists), senior Tommy Sarni (two assists), and sophomore Jake Vana (goal, two assists), who missed the previous four state tournament games with a broken hand.
“It’s our most important core value that we talk about almost every day: the team,” Pynchon said. “It’s about knowing that they don’t have to be ‘the guy,’ and letting other guys go. We don’t do this for individual accolades, we do it for [celebrating in the postgame] circle.
“It’s all about [the players] and the work they put in. I just get to ride on the bus.”