ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Timothy Matthews (left) tires to get the ball from the Prep’s Patrick Keefe.
By HAROLD RIVERA
MALDEN — The Malden Catholic lacrosse team has come a long way since the start of the season. Those improvements, however, weren’t enough to take down Pat Keefe and St. John’s Prep on Tuesday evening.
Keefe scored five goals en route to 7-5 win over the Lancers at Brother Gilbert Stadium. The Prep’s other goals were scored by Wes Rockett, in the second quarter, and Jack Rickards, in the third.
For St. John’s, the much needed victory places the Eagles at 5-7 and gets them back on track after dropping three in a row. Lancers goalie Eric Almquist, however, didn’t make it easy on the Eagles. Almquist was on his toes in net for the majority of the evening, but stepped up to the challenged and totalled 13 saves.
Almquist’s strong performance in net, along with a handful of mistakes on the offensive end, added up to a slow start for the Eagles.
“He’s (Almquist) a really good goalie,” Prep coach John Pynchon said. “He made a lot of really good saves. A couple of offensive turnovers, and that’s a one-goal first half.”
Will Kezerian’s goal with 4:50 left in the opening quarter gave the Lancers the first lead of the game, 1-0. Kezerian’s goal was the only one of the first quarter and the score stood at 1-0 moving into the second period.
Both teams had their chances in the second quarter, but the Eagles kept the Lancers off the board and took advantage of the scoring drought. Rockett fired a shot past Almquist with 4:29 left in the period to tie the game at 1-1. Kevin Casey looked to put the Eagles ahead in the waning seconds but his shot fell short and the teams went into the half even at 1-1.
“We’re definitely improving as the season’s going along,” Lancers coach Matt O’Neil said. “We’ve gained some confidence with some different games that we’ve played in. A home field game against a conference rival, I think the kids were up for it tonight.”
A pair of scores from Brett Machado and Sammy Palmisano in the early stages of the third quarter gave the Lancers a 3-1 edge. Facing a two-goal deficit, Keefe stepped up and took over the game for the Eagles.
Keefe scored a trio of goals, the final of which found the back of the net with 1:46 left in the third, to put the Prep ahead 4-3. Rickards added another in the final minute and the Eagles led 5-3 after three.
“That turned the game around,” Pynchon said of Keefe’s offensive spurt. “He stepped up. He stepped up and played like a man, which is what we needed him to do.”
Keefe added another pair of scores in the fourth quarter for a five-goal total. Malden Catholic’s Mark Delory scored two goals of his own in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to stop Keefe and the Eagles. Delory’s second goal came with 35 seconds remaining, but the Prep held on for the 7-5 win.
“Once he (Keefe) got going, he had that nice move from underneath and that got us a couple times,” O’Neil said. “We made an adjustment and we were able to stop it but once he got going, that was the difference.”
“We play in the toughest conference in the state,” O’Neil added. “You never like losing but when you can make that difference from game one to game two, you have to walk away feeling better about the team.”
The Lancers (3-8) visit Catholic Memorial on Thursday while St. John’s hosts Bedford (N.H.) on Saturday.