READING, Mass. — The weather finally came through for the much anticipated, early season match-up between Reading and Billerica. After multiple weather cancellations, the Indians ended up moving their once-scheduled home game to the field turf at Reading High School for a battle between 1-0 squads.
Both teams came out firing early, but the Rockets took control of the middle of the contest, outscoring Billerica 7-4 in the second and third quarters, to earn a hard-fought 14-10 win.
The Rockets are off to a furious 2-0 start, having scored a combined 30 goals to open the season, and complimenting their dynamic offensive attack with sound defensive lacrosse.
“It was a great game,” Reading Coach Charlie Hardy said after the game. “I think we are maturing into a good team. This is a different level for us and we are ready to go at it.”
Scheduling two of the top Division 1 programs in the state (Acton-Boxborough and Billerica) to begin the year is a tall task, but Reading has been up to the challenge.
“It was a tournament game tonight in the second game of the season,” Hardy added.
After a raucous first quarter that saw both teams go toe-to-toe offensively, netting five goals each, the game shifted in the Rockets’ favor. Reading outscored Billerica (1-1) four to one in a pivotal second quarter, behind four goals from four different offensive players.
Billerica closed the gap in the third quarter, as attack Drew Laundry scored two of his team-high four goals to help provide Billerica with an offensive burst coming out of the break.
It wasn’t enough, however, as Reading executed a terrific extra man offense to begin the fourth quarter. Freshman Michael Tobin beat his man and finished the scoring effort to extend the lead and give Reading the necessary breathing room to pull away with the win.
“It was important, when playing a big team like Billerica, that we settle down and do the things that we know we can do,” Reading goalie CJ Hart said.
Reading received four goals and one assist each from attack Dan Cozzi and the promising young middie/attack Michael Tobin. Middie Kevin Tobin chipped in with two goals and two assists and did a nice job in transition, controlling the ball and finding his attackmen in the open field. Middie Jack Geiger also added two scores for the Rockets, while attack Colin Doherty and middie Sam Patterson tallied one goal each in the win.
“We stress that,” Hardy said of his team’s balanced offensive attack. “I say this all the time, but show me a team with two or three superstars and we can beat that team. I think our guys played well and they all complement each other.”
All-American middie Jeff Trainor scored one goal and three assists for Billerica, while fellow middie Brian Corbett notched a hat trick for the Indians.
Key Contributors: Reading also received strong contributions from long-stick middie Will Connery and faceoff middie Ryan Melley. Melley matched Billerica’s star middie Dean Brooks all evening at the faceoff X and helped initiate numerous fast break opportunities for the Rockets.
Connery was also impressive, as the gridiron standout led the Rockets with six groundballs and played a strong game off the faceoff wing. The senior also added an assist to go along with his stingy defensive effort on Billerica’s veteran midfield group.
“Connery is a beast,” Hardy said. “So far I have seen two games and all the scrimmages that we have had and he is the by far the best pole I have seen this year.”
Standout Netminders: Despite the 14-10 score, both teams’ goalies had terrific efforts. Billerica senior All-American Tyler Canto made 16 saves tonight, while being under attack seemingly all afternoon.
“I think our goalie was outstanding,” Hardy said of Hart’s play in the cage. “CJ (Hart) made some super, super saves.”
Hart led the defensive effort for the Rockets, making 17 saves, with 11 of those stops coming in the critical second and third quarters.
“Our defense played well in front me, talking and sliding well all night,” Hart said. “Our offense has just had amazing chemistry. They play unselfish and everyone knows what is going on out on the field.”