After surging to the 2015 MIAA B Conference lacrosse championship, No. 17 John Carroll is looking to defend its crown with a wire-to-wire run in 2016. The Patriots took another step towards that goal, Friday, when they vanquished visiting Friends, 14-4, in showdown between the final two unbeaten teams in conference play.
Dominating possession off the draw and converting on the majority of its possessions, the Patriots (13-6, 5-0) built an early lead and steadily stretched it as the game progressed.
“We had a great team performance, pretty dominant on the offensive side. We scored most of the shots we took and we just moved the ball real well,” said senior Jake Bowling, who led John Carroll with 3 goals and 2 assists. “The offense was flowing pretty well and shots were falling.”
Senior midfielder Matt Lowery, who dominated on the face-offs, explained the methodical way the Pats seek to put teams away.
“I feel that we do our best when we possess and score,” said Lowery. “It’s a repetition kind of thing, we keep going, possess-score, posses-score and we pull games away really early.”
Junior Joey Rayman added 3 goals and a assist to Bowling’s scoring totals, while Paul Poholsky and 2 goals and 1 assist and Nick Rosaschi scored twice. In addition, the Patriots got 1 goal and 2 assists from Alex Wroe and 1 goal from Danny Schall.
For Friends (4-3, 4-1), junior Will Mortimer scored a hat-trick and sophomore Skyler Kessenich scored once.
While the offense was doing its thing, the John Carroll defense made life tough for the Quakers each time they moved into the offensive end.
“I was feeling really good in the goal tonight,” said keeper Dean LaPonzina. “They made it really easy, making good stops on defense, forcing easy shots for me to make saves.”
Defender Mike Imbierowicz revealed some of the team’s defensive philosophy.
“We try to do minimum slides, so it’s one-on-one with some help. Shade in, don’t make the approach, keep your stick in front and play with your feet. Minimum checks and just try to keep you between the goal and the guy.”
According to John Carroll coach Brian King, his club strives to be at its best in May, which will arrive shortly.
“We’re 24 hours to May and this is our 18th game. I think we are pretty prepared,” said King. “Friends threw a lot of different things at us and we were able to adjust to it. I think in the games we’ve played, we’ve seen a lot, but they threw a bunch. Our kids, our good seniors, kept their composure and they put the ball in the back of the net and executed.
“Momentum is good, but when you are playing that game, anything can happen. We have to bring it everyday and make sure we’re staying confident and playing with energy and playing for each other.”
Bowling assured that he and his teammates are playing with confidence.
“I think everyone is hunting for us, so we know we have a target on our back, but I don’t think we’ll have a problem,” said Bowling. “We have an amazing team this year and I think we can take it all again.”