Photo Gallery | Wahconah Girls and Boys Lacrosse play double-header
DALTON — The proverbial monkey is officially off of Wahconah's back. The Warriors finally broke through and won their first playoff game in program history.
With their fourth shot at an opening-round win, the No. 6 Warriors rolled to a win over No. 11 Granby, 15-3, in the MIAA Central/West Division III tournament.
The Warriors struck for the first goal of the game and never looked back in the rout, although it wasn't until Wahconah blitzed Granby for six goals in the third quarter that the game went from a win to a blowout.
"I'm very happy," Wahconah coach Zach Sondrini said, his grin stretching from the football field in Dalton clear across Berkshire County. "That's the thing that's looming over you [getting a win]. It's just looming over you, not getting that win. And making it to the postseason every year as a coach the last four years and not getting that win in the first round — it was just huge. It was a milestone and they did it. I'm very happy with the way they played."
Connor Washburn led the way for Wahconah, scoring five goals and dishing out three assists. But, with another top scorer in Dart Jaggi missing the game due to a concussion, a host of Warriors stepped up to balance the scoring. Wyatt Schleicher added four and Cullen Harrington had a hat trick, and freshman Matt Mathers had a pair of assists.
"We've struggled a little bit with zones this year," Washburn said, referencing Granby's defensive approach in the game. "We were a little choppy to start. Then we started getting to our looks, moving the ball around, dodging and just finding our cutters.
"Then it really started flowing for us, we were getting the transitions, we started settling into our game and we were rolling off of that."
The start, which Washburn referenced, was a little choppy. Wahconah went up 2-0 with 3:27 left in the first off of a bouncing shot from Kyle Gazzillo, but the Rams called a timeout and answered with a goal from Drew Wiesel — the first of three on the game.
But any thoughts of a Granby run were quashed by the Wahconah defense. The Warriors grabbed a goal 45 seconds after Granby's opener through Schleicher, who caught a clearance pass from goalie Vinny Orlandi into the attacking quarter of the field.
Wahconah then added another just over three minutes into the second, again from Schleicher, only for the Rams to trim the deficit to two again through Wiesel.
That would be it for Granby's scoring in the half.
"That's one of the things that we emphasize big, that first goal is the hardest to get," Sondrini said. "If we can stop them from doing that for a while, then we are going to be in good shape. That's one of the things, [when] they score, then we just pretend it's back to 0-0 again, don't let them get that first goal, and they respond."
While the play of long poles Matt Cedar, Dalton Peck and James Ross doesn't show in the box score, their defensive work rate — along with Orlandi's ability in goal — are felt by the rest of the team.
"A couple of times they got a few open cutters at the start, and then we started locking onto that," said Washburn. "Our defense played great with all the clears and ground balls and just fighting the whole game."
Up 7-2 at half, the third quarter is when Wahconah finally put the game to rest. Gazzillo scored his second to start the half, and that led to a waterfall of goals that ended with Harrington's third of the game on a pass from Gazzillo, making it 13-2 with 1:17 left in the period.
"I thought if we had [the score] maybe down by even one or two scores at the half we could stay right in here and come back," Granby coach Joe Denette said. "The third quarter just didn't help."
Granby goals — Drew Wiesel 3. Granby assists — Bailey Ortensi 1.
Wahconah goals — Connor Washburn 5, Wyatt Schleicher 4, Cullen Harrington 3, Kyle Gazillo 2, Jeremy Girard 1. Wahconah assists — Washburn 3, Girard 2, Matt Mathers 2, Harrington 1, Vinny Orlandi 1.
Saves — G: Nick Albers 15. W: Vinny Orlandi 10.
Contact Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254.