Riley, Rockets Prevail Over Rebels in Bay State Showdown


Walpole’s leading scorer against Needham attacks the net.

James Cullinane

Riley, Rockets Prevail Over Rebels in Bay State Showdown
Walpole's leading scorer against Needham attacks the net.


On May 10, 2010, last season’s Walpole Rebel Lacrosse team went into Needham and took control of the Bay State Conference with an electrifying 13-9 victory over the Rockets.  Exactly one year later, Needham, the #4 team in Division I, invaded John Turco Memorial Field with their sights set on revenge, while Head Coach Jason Andalo’s #6 ranked Rebels squad look to emulate last season’s success.  To the chagrin of Andalo and the Rebels, the Rockets would prevail in a 12-11 nail-biter between Bay State Conference powerhouses that will surely be remembered as an instant classic.

During the early goings of the first quarter, it appeared as though the Rebels were on their way to their tenth win of the season as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead behind two goals from senior Captain Kyle Guilbert and a goal by senior Nick Foley.  However, with 6:24 remaining in the first period, Needham junior Mark Riley broke the ice for the Rocket offense with a nifty goal.  Within the next three minutes, Needham would tally two additional goals, leaving the score tied at three at the end of the quarter.

This back and fourth nature continued into the second quarter as Guilbert responded to an early Needham goal to make the score 4-4.  With 2:35 remaining in the quarter Riley added his second goal of the game to put the Rockets ahead by a score of 5-4.  Exactly one minute later, Foley responded with a second goal of his own to tie the game at five.  This score held until the end of the first half.  With 1:01 remaining, the Rebels nearly suffered a devastating blow as Guilbert went down to the turf with an apparent knee injury.  Fortunately for Andalo’s squad, the injury would prove insignificant as Guilbert returned strongly in the second half.

When judging the early second half performance by the Rebels, it appeared obvious that whatever adjustments were made by Andalo and his staff at halftime worked, as Walpole played like a team on a mission.  Behind three highlight reel goals from Guilbert, the Rebels led by a score of 8-5 with 5:22 remaining in the third quarter.  Perhaps in a nearly predictable manner, the Rockets stormed back to cut the Rebel lead to one behind two goals from senior Captain Will Stenberg.  The third quarter would end with the Rebels leading the Rockets by a score of 8-7.

The fourth quarter could be described as nothing less than 12 undeniably exciting minutes of lacrosse.  Less than two minutes into the action, Delpha put the Rebels ahead by a score of 9-7.  For the next eight minutes, Needham would take complete control of the game, showcasing nearly flawless offensive execution.  With 9:00 remaining in the game, Riley netted a Rockets goal.  Less than three minutes later, the game would be tied following another Needham goal.  The Rockets took their biggest lead of the night with 2:18 remaining, after goals by the Rockets’ dynamic duo of Riley and Stenberg.   However, Rebel senior Captain Matt Niden showed grit and determination by scooping the groundball off of the ensuing face-off and taking it to the net himself, bringing the Rebels with one goal of the Rockets.  With 21.7 remaining in the fourth quarter, Guilbert cemented himself in Rebel lore with a thrilling goal to tie the game.  Following this astonishing goal, the Rockets called timeout with only 17 seconds remaining in regulation.  Unfortunately for the Rebels, the Rockets would only need 10 seconds for Davis Cutter to score the game winning goal.  As time expired, the Rockets, realizing the significance of this victory, stormed the field to celebrate with their teammates.

The most notable performance statistically for the Rockets was that of Riley, who scored four goals and added one assist.  Following Needham’s momentous victory, Riley spoke of the deeper significance behind this game for the Rockets, “This game proved that we could play with anyone.  Walpole only lost to Wellesley (the #1 team in the state) 8-6.  Tonight we proved that we can play with them.”  When asked if any Rocket performance stood out in his mind, Riley said “Our goalie Lucas Davis definetly stepped up tonight.  The role of goalie has kind of been up in the air between him and another kid but he really proved that he was the man for the job.”  Davis’s play in goal was one of the many factors that contributed to Needham’s impressive road victory over the Rebels.

For the Rebels, Andalo will face the challenge of consoling a disappointed team and helping them to take this loss in stride.  After the game, Rebel standout defenseman Russell Ollis was quoted as saying “I thought we played a good game overall.  It is definitely frustrating that we couldn’t pull out the win, but give credit to Needham.  They’re a good team that kept fighting until the end.”

Guilbert’s performance for the Rebels was spectacular to say the least as the captain delivered seven goals.  On the defensive end, Ollis and Niden, along with senior Captain Rob Prindall had notably strong games.   The Rebels will look to get back on track against Milton on Thursday.