The boys lacrosse team hadn’t played a game since their 17-0 defeat over Sturgis East in their season opener on March 30, but the Whalers made it clear there was very little rust to shake off in Tuesday’s matchup against the 2-3 Barnstable Red Hawks.
The Whalers won the game 14-5 behind a four goal, three assist game by junior attacker Cole Chambers, a four goal game by junior attacker Colby O’Keefe, and strong performances in the face-off dot by freshman midfielder Canton Jenkinson and junior midfielder Michael Culkins.
“We scored and went up with three or four goals and I don’t know if we got flat after going up, they just switched into a zone,” head coach Sam Aloisi said. “Jack (Halik, junior attacker) was dodging a lot to start and then they switched to a zone to stop that. But once our guys got comfortable with it, they were able to find those creases in the zone. Offensive patience was awesome today. That goes back to possession. Michael Culkins and Canton Jenkinson were great today, but especially Canton. He is a freshman that had only played in one scrimmage, and he did great.”
The scoring began with a Chambers' shot that slowly trickled past the goal line after what appeared to be a save by Barnstable’s goalie. Freshman Arann Hanlon, Culkins, and Chambers for a second time rounded out the scoring in the opening frame while Barnstable was only able to score one goal.
The Red Hawks scored quickly to make it a 4-2 game in the second quarter, and they had some long possessions that forced Nantucket’s defense to stand strong and freshman goalie Jeremy Jenkinson to be sharp. Aloisi said he was happy with the communication by defense in this game.
The Whalers were eventually able to get some offense going in the final minutes of the first half. Culkins picked up a loose ball following a rebound and scored while being hit to the ground to give Nantucket a 5-2 lead thanks to his tremendous effort.
“He just picked it up and stuffed it,” Aloisi said. “That was a hockey goal. That was great.”
O’Keefe scored to make it a 6-2 game with 11 seconds left in the half, and that score stood after 24 minutes.
Scoring remained hard to come by in the third quarter until there was just under two minutes left. That is when Halik and Chambers took matters into their own hands with a pair of goals.
The first goal began when Halik picked off a pass before finding Chambers streaking up the middle of the field with one man to beat. Chambers beat his man as he normally does in that situation and slipped one by Barnstable’s goalie to make it 7-2 with 1:47 to go in the third.
Then in final minute, the Whalers drew the first penalty of the game. This time it was Chambers finding Halik with a beautiful pass on the man advantage to make it 8-2 with 11 seconds left.
“There was a lot of good stuff,” Aloisi said. “Nathan McLean played awesome on the wings on faceoffs. I thought Jeremy was great in his first game, freshman goalie. He is a tough kid.”
The Whaler’s offense exploded in the final quarter. Chambers scored on another man advantage two minutes in, followed by Canton Jenkinson’s first varsity goal with 8:30 to go and two more O’Keefe goals; one off a sick pass from Hanlon with 7:13 to go and the other 13 seconds later thanks to a gorgeous pass by Canton.
“We had the ball a lot and their defense was just tired,” Aloisi said. “Their defense was done late in the third quarter and after that it just got easy.”
Barnstable scored to make it 12-3 but O’Keefe answered right back to make it 13-3. After another Red Hawk goal to make it 13-4, senior midfielder Sean Murphy scored to make it 14-4. Barnstable scored a goal in the final 90 seconds to make it a 14-5 score.
Aloisi said he believes his team is more balanced this season compared to last year's team that made it to the state quarterfinal. He doesn't believe there are any weak links and is optimistic that the pieces are in place to support their stars. He said that a player such as O'Keefe is someone who the team will lean on to capitalize on favorable matchups created from other teams focusing their attention on Chambers and Halik.
The Whalers are now 2-0 and will be in action again on Friday when they travel to take on a 2-2 Whitman-Hanson Panther team at 3:30 p.m.