For the second consecutive season, the Nantucket boys lacrosse team punched their ticket to the MIAA Div. 4 state quarterfinals following a 13-3 victory over the Rockland Bulldogs at Vito Capizzo Stadium Wednesday afternoon.
The Whalers were led by a brilliant defensive effort, anchored by juniors Griffin Starr and Hunter Strojny, senior Luke Stringer, and freshman Owen Sullivan. All three of the Bulldog’s goals were with a man advantage.
“They were great. The kids played well just like the other day,” head coach Sam Aloisi said. “The defense didn’t give up a full-strength goal. Jeremy came up huge again. I thought Sean Murphy (senior midfielder) was huge with the clears. But our defense was just great overall. We had a couple of options we thought we might have to switch into on defense, but we never had to.”
The Whaler offense now has 29 goals through the team’s two tournament games. Aloisi credits this success to a team-oriented approach his players have gradually adopted and bought into as the season has progressed.
“They continue to improve and play as a team,” he said. “It is team offense instead of individuals. They are starting to understand if you take care of each other, if you give your buddy an assist, he is going to give you one right back - so it makes it a lot easier.”
Junior attacker Cole Chambers led Nantucket with five goals in this game. He now has eight goals in the state tournament and is as hot offensively as he has been all year long.
While Chambers continues to be the Whaler’s primary scoring threat alongside fellow junior attacker Jack Halik (Halik scored three goals in Wednesday’s game), the emergence of several depth scorers up front including freshman Arann Hanlon, as well as juniors Ryan Davis, Colby O’Keefe, Mike Culkins and Pat Carroll has allowed Chambers to maximize his abilities according to Aloisi.
“I think it goes back to last year where with Cole, and this isn’t his fault, but he was trying to do everything himself (in the tournament),” Aloisi said. “Now they are all trying to help each other. One day Cole will get five goals and the next day it will be somebody else. All of these guys are okay with that.”
Freshman goalie Jeremy Jenkinson continues to provide stellar play in net, finishing the day with 12 saves. It has allowed the Whalers to take their game to another level.
“The defense definitely has more confidence, and it allows them to take more chances down close,” Aloisi said. “So yeah, I would say they are definitely playing more confident with Jeremy in net.”
The #6 Whalers next game will be on the road against the #3 seeded Dover-Sherborn Raiders. The date and time of this game has not been finalized.
The Raiders finished the regular season with a 12-6 record. They beat #30 East Bridgewater 10-3 in the Round of 32 and #14 Assabet Valley 17-1 in the Round of 16. They did not have any common opponents with the Whalers this season.
Nantucket also finished their regular season with a 12-6 record and they are playing some of their best lacrosse of the season right now. They have outscored their opponents in tournament play 29-3 through two games.