CRANSTON — Westerly High knew it had to limit Narragansett's dynamic duo — Jack McGreen and Gabe Wooten — if it had any hope of earning the Division III boys lacrosse title Sunday at Cranston Stadium.
The Bulldogs could not afford to let them dominate the game as they have so many times this season against other opponents.
Westerly's Ryan McCarthy, Trent Lamb, Luke Marley and goalie Brandon Tallardy did just enough against them as the Bulldogs topped the Mariners, 8-7, to win the championship.
"We were very attentive to the fact that those were the two key guys," said Westerly first-year coach Ted Spencer. "And we wanted to make other people try to score.
"And I think that turned into turnovers and things like that in our favor. We were able to disrupt what they like to do. The last time we played them, No. 1 [McGreen] had six or seven goals."
McGreen finished with just one goal, 10 seconds into the second quarter, and one assist. McCarthy did not give him any room to operate.
"Trent [Lamb] and I locked down on No. 1 [McGreen] and No. 11 [Wooten]. Our No. 1 [Luke Marley] played a string in the middle. Luke would be coming for the double team if anyone of those two got the ball," McCarthy said. "They did have their moments, it was a very close game, I give them their props. But in the end it came down to who worked harder."
Spencer said McCarthy has been the team's top defender all season.
"He has that heart of a Bulldog, giving it everything he has every time," Spencer said. "I think maybe he was overlooked in terms of All-Division and he was very upset about that. I told him, 'Hey, show them what kind of defenseman you are on the field,' and he did that in the semis and the finals. He shut down their best players for the most part."
McGreen and Wooten did have their moments. Wooten scored three goals and assisted on another. McGreen dominated the faceoffs, winning 14 of 19. But Wooten's last contribution came on an assist with 11:34 left in the game.
Lamb, a starting lineman on the Westerly football team, did a good job of keeping Wooten from taking over the latter stages of the game.
"We just wanted to take away their top offensive threats," Lamb said. "It feels great after last season when we didn't win a single game."
No. 4 Westerly was 0-14 in Division II last season before moving down to D-III this year. They finished 16-3.
Ben Morrone scored what proved to be the winning goal with 5:33 remaining in the game.
Narraganset had possession when Bereket Janat caused a turnover. Aaron Keegan came up with the ground ball and found Janat heading down the middle of the field.
Janat carried the ball for a number of yards before he found Mark Buckley open a few yards from goal ahead of the Narragansett defense. Buckley received the ball and it appeared he might put a shot on goal.
But with little angle to work with, Buckley made a better decision and played the ball back to Morrone, who fired an absolute rocket for the score to put Westerly in front, 8-7.
It was Morrone's 61st goal of the season, establishing a single-season school record. Tim Moran had the previous record of 60 in 2013.
"It's good ball movement. We practice a lot of transition," Spencer said. "We know we are good in broken situations. Ride hard, get ground balls, push the ball and try to get in transition. That's something that has been a large part of our success."
Morrone gave coach Spencer much of the credit for this season's turnaround.
"He really turned this team around better than anyone expected him to," Morrone said. "It's honestly the most amazing experience of my life.
"Our defense did a spectacular job even with all the penalty minutes they got. They just held their own."
Tallardy finished with 10 saves, including a number of big ones throughout the game.
Buckley finished with a goal and four assists. Brandon Chretien, Keegan and Morrone finished with two goals each. Rhys Johnstone had the other goal.
Joe Fusaro had two assists.
Narragansett, the top seed, finished 17-2.