By Christopher James, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Sunday April 22, 2012
EAST LONGMEADOW — Jeff Stripp brought his Mount Greylock boys lacrosse team here Saturday morning to face what he called a “really good” East Longmeadow squad.
It turns out the Mounties were even better.
“We knew it was going to be a challenge for us,” said Greylock senior Kent Hanson. “But I don’t think most of the guys thought we’d actually win it. I knew we’d give them a good fight.”
Hanson and his teammate did win it, though, stunning the Spartans 9-5 on their home field. Hanson had a goal, two assists and countless interceptions that kept the ball in a Mountie stick and the pressure on East Longmeadow (6-3). Noah Kelley added three goals while Ethan Ryan had two. Michael McCormack added two goals and an assist.
It was a milestone victory for a Mountie program in its first year at the varsity level against a team that had made the Western Massachusetts tournament three of the last four years. Spartans coach Dan Blinn said he remembers helping Greylock learn the sport when the school had just a club program.
“I’m very impressed with what their coaching staff has done,” Blinn said. “Compared to what they were a couple years ago when we were helping them out to where they are now, the coaches have done a great job with them. … They came out today ready to play. They beat us up and down the field. They deserved that win.”
The Mounties (4-1) kept the game scoreless for more than eight minutes but the Spartans scored two goals in a 16-second span late in the first quarter. Greylock had an early goal called back for a crease violation and its offense was trying to force the ball in front of the cage. Stripp quickly called a timeout and the Mounties would reel off five straight goals to end the half.
“I think we just settled down and recognized what kind of defense they were playing, what kind of offense they were trying to run,” Stripp said. “I think the boys settled in nicely, really in the second quarter. It took us about a quarter to get off the bus.”
From that point on, Greylock dominated possession. The Mounties strung together two goals in 11 seconds midway through the second thanks to strong faceoff play. They did it again, scoring 15 seconds apart in the third after East Longmeadow had cut the lead to two goals early in the period. With Greylock holding the ball, the Spartans couldn’t do much.
“[We have] great coaching, great stick handling,” Hanson said. “Our team, when they get pressured they still hold on to it. We don’t freak out and throw it across the field and stuff.”
Pat Malloy was strong in goal at the other end, making 12 saves and keeping East Longmeadow off the board for more than 17 minutes in the middle of the game. The Spartans had trouble getting to Malloy for most of the day. Greylock got after ground balls and Hanson made like a defensive back in football, scooping several passes out of mid-air. He had a East Longmeadow pass land right in the pocket of his stick in the second quarter. He promptly fired a pass to Kelley who scored the go-ahead goal. The Mounties never trailed again.
“A lot of Western Mass. teams are going to give us a lot more respect now that we’re a varsity sport,” Malloy said.
Greylock now returns to Williamstown to face Pittsfield, likely its strongest challenger in the Berkshire County league, on Tuesday. Both teams are unbeaten in league play.