The Vineyard boys varsity lacrosse team and the Sandwich Blue Knights met in a fiesty, ill-tempered tussle Monday afternoon at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.
The Vineyarders, fresh off a hard-fought loss to island rivals Nantucket on Saturday, came into the contest at 6-7 on the season, needing three wins to clinch a berth in the state tournament. Despite another gritty effort, especially in the second half, the Vineyarders lost, 12-8, to a seasoned Sandwich team fielding 16 seniors, and now need to win three of their remaining four games to play in the postseason.
Sandwich scored 28 seconds into the game, and added another goal at 6:50 left in the first quarter. The Vineyarders fought back to tie with two goals in 70 seconds. Sam Wallace scored his first of three goals on the day, and Ivan Shepard netted the equalizer with an assist to Riley Amaral. The Blue Knights grabbed the lead back 47 seconds later, and tallied again with 59 seconds left in the first quarter.
Sandwich added two pairs of goals, interrupted by Riley Amaral’s 15-foot dart into the bottom left corner five minutes into the second period. With the Blue Knights up 8-3, Sam Wallace wove his way through the Sandwich defense and whistled a laser into the twine with 3.4 seconds left in the half, to give the Vineyarders a much-needed boost heading into the halftime break.
Passions reached a fever pitch in the third quarter, with three players from each side earning penalties for slashing, roughing, and unsportsmanlike conduct during a two-minute span late in the period.
Each team scored twice in the stanza. Following some slick Vineyard passing around the Sandwich cage, Riley Amaral scored his second goal of the game seven minutes into the period, assisted by Zach Moreis, and with 14 seconds left, converted a Colby Zarba feed to notch a hat trick.
Down 10-6, heading into the fourth quarter, the Vineyarders fed off the momentum of the previous goal, and peppered the Sandwich net with shots. Jacob Gundersen dished to a cutting Sam Wallace for a goal 1:18 into the period, and Zach Moreis twisted through the Blue Knights backline for another goal 2:20 later, to make it 10-8. From there, Sandwich goalie Peyton Goodwin shut the door, snaring a half-dozen Vineyard shots down the stretch to finish with 12 saves in the game. Vineyarder Max Smith had 10 saves of his own in a solid effort between the pipes.
After the hotly contested game, Vineyard Coach Chris Greene was proud of his team’s effort. “Sandwich is a good program, a solid program … it’s always been a battle,” he said. “I thought my kids fought. You know, we had a tough loss on Saturday at Nantucket, 10-8, but I told them after the game, it was honestly the first time we competed for four quarters. So we kind of brought that energy today and, you know, we made a couple of mental errors that made the difference, and we gave up a couple of turnovers after poor shots, but we’re right on the edge of turning the corner, and we can still get three out of the next four, make the playoffs, so we worry about Monomoy on Thursday.”
In Nantucket on Saturday, the Vineyarders hustled from start to finish, but lost a seesaw battle with the Whalers. Riley Amaral scored five goals to lead MV. Zach Moreis totaled a goal and three assists, Sam Wallace and Colby Zarba had a goal apiece, and Jacob Gundersen chipped in with two assists.
The Vineyarders will play Monomoy Regional High School at home on Thursday at 3 pm.