By Dan Harrison
---- — PEABODY — The Bishop Fenwick boy’s lacrosse team dominated North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie 14-1 at home last night.
More important than the final score was the fact that the Crusaders looked much improved in two areas the team has struggled in so far this season — winning faceoffs and execution in the zone defense.
“It hurt us tremendously,” NST/EA (1-7) head coach Jeff Comeau said of his team’s inability to win face-offs. “Out on the wing, the guys couldn’t find the ball. And 18 (P.J. Usalis) hurt us a lot.”
Usalis took the majority of the faceoffs for Fenwick while Kevin Hannon corralled the loose ground balls to help secure possession as the Crusaders held a 9-0 advantage by halftime. Over the first two quarters the Crusaders won 10 of 11 draws.
When the Hawks did possess the ball, an active zone defense from the Crusaders forced turnovers and limited shots.
“That (faceoff control) has been a problem for us all year,” explained Bishop Fenwick (6-5) head coach Leo Shidler. “We’ve worked on it a lot. We’ve worked on body position, boxing out and doing the little things. It definitely helps when you have the ball.”
There was one Crusader that was particularly lethal with the ball in his stick. Attackman Troy Reinold had his way with the Hawks defense from the X position. He used hesitation and spin moves behind the net to create space. He finished the first half with three goals and an assist before adding one more of each in the third quarter.
Kyle Russell added two goals and an assists while Usalis finished with a goal and three assists.
“Troy (Reinold) is probably our best all-around offensive player,” said Shidler. “Kyle (Usalis) is probably our best pure scorer but we like to run our offense through Troy. He’s got great stick protection and he always knows where the next slide is coming from.”
Defensively, the Crusaders didn’t allow a shot in the first quarter and didn’t allow a goal until the fourth quarter. Cam Smallidge scored the lone Hawks goal on an assist from Logan Gilliland.
Besides the one marker, the Hawks struggled to get open shots and penetrate the Crusaders defense. Hannon in particular was effective in the top left of the zone, batting down passes and keeping the NST/EA midfielders from driving. Hannon, who is a first-year player for Shidler, also scored tw o goals.
“He’s (Hannon) come a long way. His first day, he didn’t even know what a ground ball was,” explained Shidler. “He’s an animal. It was good to see him go to the net today.”
The defense overall is inexperienced but yesterday, the slides were crisp and the sticks were disciplined. When he needed to Jake Brennan came up with some timely stops but for the most part the Hawks had trouble getting close enough to the cage to really threaten.
“We’re very young (on defense) so it’s been a work in progress,” said Shidler. “It was great to see them pass off their guys and recover. We’re getting there but we’ll see on Wednesday (against Arlington Catholic). It’s a big conference game.”