Stonington Borough, CT
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WESTERLY — For the first 40 minutes of Friday’s Division III game the Chariho High boys’ lacrosse team hung tough with Westerly.
The Chargers led for most of the game and the score was tied 4-4 with 9 minutes remaining, but a late Bulldog surge coupled with a depleted Chariho bench resulted in seven fourth-quarter goals and an 11-4 Westerly win.
Freshman attackman Lucas Hiltz, who scored five goals and assisted on two others, led the late charge and figured in five of Westerly’s fourth-quarter tallies.
“I think our team dynamics really came together late,” Hiltz said. “We started to dodge and once we got ahead by two goals we got some more confidence because we weren’t as worried about losing possession and Chariho tying the score.”
Hiltz assisted on the Bulldogs’ first two goals (scores by Pat Johns and Joe Piccolo) and then scored three straight goals after an unassisted goal by Christian Dean.
“He’s (Hiltz) tremendous,” Westerly coach Bruce Brawley said. “He and his brother Ian are both tremendous players. I knew right away the first day I saw him on the squad that I’d put him on attack. He has tremendous stick skills.”
The Bulldogs’ scoring barrage began with 8 minutes and 11 seconds left in the game and ended on a Seth Rohdin score with 2:35 to go.
“Our guys played a little timid at first and then it started clicking for them, over and over again,” senior captain Ian Hiltz said.
As easy as the final 8 minutes seemed for the Bulldogs, the first 40 minutes of the game were equally difficult.
Chariho, still searching for its first win as a program, weathered an early flurry of shots thanks to some solid goaltending by James Rooney.
Rooney (17 saves) snagged several early Westerly bids with his stick and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard in the first quarter.
Chariho(0-6, 0-6 Division III) grabbed the lead on a Mitch Renner first-quarter goal. Renner picked up a clearing pass, ran past a pair of Westerly defenders and scored from about 25-yards.
A Lucas Hiltz goal tied the score 1-1 early in the second quarter, but Connor Hillyer put the Chargers back on top a minute and a half later.
Chariho carried the play for most of the second quarter, but Dean tied the score for Westerly and the teams went to the halftime break knotted 2-2.
Renner’s second goal came with 4:58 left in the third quarter, but Carter White tied the score 38 seconds later.
Tyler Bobbin put the Chargers up 4-3 with 2:35 left in the third before Lucas Hiltz scored the equalizer with 34 seconds left.
Chariho’s bench was down to just four players after Regan Beadreau fouled out in the third quarter and the shorthanded Chargers wore down in the final quarter.
“I just want to say what a great job Chariho did,” Brawley said. “They showed up with 14 kids and they rallied and held us to four goals through three quarters. We played our game at the end and it paid off.” Chariho coach Mike Foley refused to comment on the game.
The fourth-quarter outburst was a welcome change for the Bulldogs who have had their share of difficulty closing out games recently.
Westerly (2-3, 2-3 Division III) was edged by a single goal in games against Lincoln and the Burrillville/North Smithfield co-op. “We had two heart breakers where we were up the whole game and lost by a goal,” Brawley said. “It was really, really tough because we had to go play a really strong Cranston West team after that and they beat us pretty good.
“We had the ball and we didn’t do anything offensively in this game early. I told them during the timeouts that we need to dodge, charge the net and shoot. We were able to put the ball in the net, our confidence came back and we were able to play our game from that point.”
Ian Hiltz said the fourth quarter is how his team needs to play all the time.
“If we play like we did the first three quarters it’s not going to go so well but if we can play like we did in the fourth quarter we should see a big shift in the season.”
Timothy Dobson picked up three assists for Westerly and Piccolo had one.
Renner and Josh Merritt each had assists for Chariho.
The Bulldogs host Coventry Monday at 6 p.m. and Chariho hosts North Providence Monday at 4 p.m.