DANVERS — The St. John’s lacrosse team had its sights on clinching the Catholic Conference Wednesday with a win over Catholic Memorial.
The Eagles earned their conference crown convincingly with a 17-2 win at Glatz Field.
“After 10 days off we were a little nervous about how we would come out,” Eagles coach John Pynchon said. “But we had three practices and we just competed and got better at practice. We just got better and better. We played well in all facets of the game which is what you want.”
With the win, St. John’s improved to 8-0 on the year in conference games. Pynchon credits his senior class for helping build a successful atmosphere.
“They’re very competitive at practice,” Pynchon said. “They’ve been doing it for three years now and they know what to do. I can’t say enough about the senior class, how deep they are and how well they’ve bought into what we are asking them to do.
“A kid like Trent Tully’s outstanding and Ben Grunes,” Pynchon said. “The stuff those guys do on a daily basis, at practice, in the locker room. I can’t say enough about that group. Ben Shaw was all over the field (Wednesday). As a group we are doing all the little things right.”
Brian Souza and Michael Ott led the way for the Eagles with four goals each while Patrick Keefe added three goals and five assists. Sean Gilbert scored two goals. Jake Surette had one goal with three assists while Lucas Brennan had one goal and one assist. Craig Yannone and Josiah Brown each scored one goal.
After a faceoff win from Yannone, the Eagles went on the man advantage less than two minutes into the game. Surrette swung a pass over to Keefe who found the back of the net to put St. John’s ahead 1-0.
Less than a minute later Surrette assisted another goal, this time from Souza to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter the Eagles cashed in on another man-up opportunity. Ott dished a nice pass to Souza who scored on a behind the back shot. Keefe added another goal with less than a minute to play in the first to give the Eagles a 4-0 lead.
The Eagles continued their offensive dominance in the second quarter, with Gilbert and Brennan adding a goal each to stretch the lead to 6-0. After a Catholic memorial timeout, Brennan assisted a goal from Surette and Keefe added a goal in the final minute to give the Prep a 8-0 lead at halftime.
Meanwhile the Eagles defense was nearly perfect, allowing just three shots on goal in the first three quarters.
St. John’s started to pile it on in the third quarter. The Eagles scored three quick goals to start the second half, two from Ott and one from Gilbert, to go ahead 11-0.
“They ran some stuff in the second half that I think we were ready for,” Pynchon said. “We instantly knew what to do, we instantly reacted and scored two goals right away. That’s perfect offensive execution. That puts the pressure on their defense to either stay with it or change. That’s great May-into-June lacrosse. We’re happy with our performance.”
Ott added another goal a few minutes later before Souza and Yannone scored back-to-back tallies in an eight-second span to push the lead to 14-0.
Brown, Souza and Ott each added a goal in the final minutes of the third quarter to stretch the lead to 17-0 and round out the scoring for St. John’s.
Catholic Memorial got on the board in the fourth quarter with goals from Scott Vara and Liam Conneely.
The Eagles (12-2) have a tough test ahead of them Saturday (11) at Needham.
“Needham is outstanding,” Pynchon said. “They’ve lost three games, one in overtime, one to Xaverian and one to Hingham. You look at our schedule and their schedule and it’s pretty much the exact same teams. It should be a great game for us. It’s a good test for us.”