McLaughlin goal lifts Billerica past Westford
Billerica’s Dan Lynch (left) hugs Jim McLaughlin after McLaughlin’s goal gave the Indians an 8-7 win over Westford. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.
WESTFORD — Timing is everything in life — and Billerica High senior defender Jimmy McLaughlin certainly picked the perfect moment to score the first goal of his varsity career.
McLaughlin broke in clean and scored with 1:20 remaining to lift Billerica past host Westford Academy, 8-7, in an exciting boys lacrosse non-league opener for both schools.
“I’ve been on the team for four years and that’s my first goal,” said McLaughlin. “I’m so excited. It came at a great time.
“I was so amped after I scored. This is a huge win for us. (Westford) smoked us (19-7) in the tournament last year. So it was definitely a big win to open the season like this.”
Tyler Canto came up huge in net for the Indians, finishing with 19 saves. Dean Brooks scored two goals, and played a strong all-around game for Billerica.
Shane Kilday paced Westford Academy’s offense with four goals, while Grey Ghost netminder Connor Freud made 13 saves.
Kilday netted his fourth goal of the second half with 2:43 left to play to tie the score, 7-7.
Billerica forced a turn over with less two minutes to play, and McLaughlin then scored the winner off a set play.
“Once I got the ball I was expecting to give it off to our point man, but they slid off and let me walk right in for an easy goal,” said McLaughlin, who played a strong game on defense.
“I had to take the shot when they let me go in like that. I was surprised they didn’t slide up on me. I guess they didn’t respect a defender coming down, but they should have.”
“We had a play set up for defenseman Jim McLaughlin and we had a good time to run it,” added Billerica coach Craig Flynn. “Fortunately, he had a great shot and got a win for us.”
Westford had control of the ball in Billerica’s zone in the final minute, but the Indians’ defense rose to the challenge and preserved the win.
“It was a good first game of the season,” said Westford coach Matt Tholander. “Our ground ball effort was great. I thought our team defense was great.
“We’re happy about the effort. We’re just not happy about the outcome. When it’s time to put the ball in the net, we just have to a better job of that.”
The Grey Ghosts created plenty of scoring chances but Canto came up with some key saves, especially in the second half. Tommy Trask and Anthony Milano had strong games on defense for the Indians.
“Canto was exceptional for us in net,” said Flynn. “I’m sure glad he’s on our team.”
The score was tied, 3-3, at halftime. Billerica took a 7-5 lead on second half goals by Gus Gobiel, Brian Corbett, Brooks and Kevin Casey.
But the Grey Ghosts refused to fold as Kilday tallied a pair of scores to even the score.
“Kilday is one of our better players,” said Tholander. “He’s an all-league player from last year. He has a high motor. He can do it on both ends of the field. He had a big game.”
Drew Laundry, Dan Lynch and Brooks scored Billerica’s goals in the first half.
Westford got goals from Ryan McNabb, Kevin Enos and Alex Flannagan in the opening half.
“Westford is a great program,” said Flynn. “Things didn’t go as well as we would have liked when we played them in the tournament last year. This was a real nice win for us to open the season.”
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