WORCESTER — Wahconah made it to the first boys’ lacrosse state final in program history on the strength of its explosive offense.
But in Wednesday’s battle against Sandwich for the Division 4 title, the Warriors defense led the way with senior goalie Joe Massaro playing the game of his life with 20 saves to secure an 8-7 victory at Worcester State.
“That goalie had a hell of a game,” Sandwich coach Mike McNeil said of Massaro’s performance. “Good for him. We missed some shots, and [Massaro] stepped up. Wow, that’s a lot of saves in a tournament game against these guys. No excuses here. I’m proud of the season we’ve had and kudos to [Wahconah] for getting it done.”
The third-seeded Warriors (21-1) came into the final averaging 19.5 goals per game over four tournament wins.
The top-seeded Blue Knights (19-4) came into the final allowing just 3.3 goals per game, and they held the Warriors offense down early to keep it locked, 3-3, at halftime. Then Wahconah pulled away with four goals in the third frame, including a couple of flashy finishes from Devin Lampron (three goals) and Tommy O’Neil (two goals), the son of Wahconah coach Billy O’Neil.
On the other end, Massaro seemed to stop everything Sandwich threw his way.
“From the first shot, I knew it was going to be a good game,” Massaro said. “They were kind of throwing me the same shots, shot after shot. I kind of just recognized it and made it simple: See it, stop it. [Each save] definitely felt like they meant more. It was a little scary toward the end, but we made the saves that we had to and we finished the game.”
Seniors Tim Souza (four goals) and Matt DiGiacomo (two goals) led Sandwich on a late comeback bid and the Blue Knights had a couple of chances to tie it after Souza’s fourth score made it an 8-7 game with just under 3 minutes remaining.
But a couple of bounces went in Wahconah’s favor and the Warriors fans who made the trek down from Dalton were able to celebrate in style.
While Sandwich also traveled nearly 100 miles for the state final, the Blue Knights could go home with their heads held high knowing they gave a valiant effort in the program’s first state final.
“As a team we played pretty solid,” McNeil said. “We made some mistakes and [Wahconah] capitalized on them. I’m happy with our effort, the sportsmanship was there, and I’m proud of our season. It took a lot of work since March to get here.”