Returning All-Stars Highlight Lacrosse Opener

Nearly flawless execution on both ends of the field helped the Rebels to a 16-6 victory over Franklin.

Nearly flawless execution on both ends of the field helped the Rebels to a 16-6 victory over Franklin. (Photo/Kim Guilbert)

James Cullinane

Nearly flawless execution on both ends of the field helped the Rebels to a 16-6 victory over Franklin.
Nearly flawless execution on both ends of the field helped the Rebels to a 16-6 victory over Franklin. (Photo/Kim Guilbert)

Two years removed from a remarkable State Championship season, Head Coach Jason Andalo’s Rebel Lacrosse Team is viewed by many to be in the midst of a rebuilding season.  Following a 18-4 2010 campaign, the Rebels graduated Division 1 bound – and All-Americans – seniors Peter Bowes and Ryan Izzo.  Along with Bowes and Izzo, the Rebels suffered a severe loss with the graduation of goalie PJ Painten, leaving a question mark in the net for the Rebels.  Despite these key losses, the Rebels retain an undeniably strong core in the 2011 season behind three Bay State League All-Stars, senior Captains Kyle Guilbert and Matt Niden, along with junior defenseman Russell Ollis.  On Monday, April 4, 2011, the Rebels looked to continue their streak of excellence in a non-league match up with Franklin, a team that finished with an impressive 15-4 record in 2010.

If the season opener was any indication of the remainder of the season, it appears that Walpole will once again be serious contenders for the State Championship as the Rebels beat Franklin 16-6 in dominating fashion.  It took only one minute for recent sophomore Xaverian transfer Eric Jansen to score the first goal of the season for the Rebels.  On the ensuing face off, Ollis showcased the tenacity that helped him earn his All-Star label by out hustling a Franklin player for a groundball.  This play led to a goal by senior Brendan Maloney only 40 seconds later.  With the Rebels ahead 2-0 at the 10 minute mark, they took advantage of this momentum and did not look back, leading 5-1 at the end of the first quarter behind another Maloney goal and two goals from Guilbert.

Conversely, the second quarter revolved not around the Rebel offensive attack, but around defensive intensity and impressive goalie play from junior James O’Neill.  Time and time again, driving Franklin players were denied by Ollis, whose aggresive play and skilled stickwork energized the Rebel defense.  Alongside Ollis, senior Captains Niden and Rob Prindall contributed to the Rebel defensive attacks as well.  With 10:02 remaining in the second quarter, senior Nick Foley scored to put the Rebels ahead by a score of 6-1.  Following a goal by Niden, Foley added another goal to the Rebel lead.  By the end of the first half, the Rebels led Franklin by a score of 8-2 behind perfect offensive execution and stingy defensive play.

The Rebels silenced all thoughts of a second half comeback in the third quarter, continuing seemingly flawless execution on both ends of the field.  Less than 50 seconds in the half, Guilbert put the Rebels ahead by a score of 9-2, as his blazing shot burned past Franklin’s goalie.  Following a Franklin goal, Foley and Maloney added subsequent goals to put the Rebels ahead 11-3 with 6:15 remaining in the third quarter.  Only a minute later, sophomore Steve Thulin scored his first varsity goal, which was quickly followed by another Guilbert goal.  At the end of the third quarter, the Rebels remained comfortably ahead by a score of 13-4.

The Rebels relentless attack did not slow in the early goings of the fourth quarter as Guilbert and Foley continued to light up Franklin’s goalie, putting the Rebels ahead 15-4.  With such a large lead, Andalo used the remainder of the fourth quarter to give his younger players valuable experience at the varsity level.  Because of his impressive play in net, O’Neill was pulled for senior reserve goalie Andy Ellis with four minutes left in the game.  With an inexperienced mix of players on the field, Franklin would add two goals to their final tally of six.  On the offensive end, sophomore Brad Webber scored his first varsity goal, which would be the Rebels’ last goal of the afternoon.  The Rebel season opener ended as a 16-6 victory, silencing many of this talented squad’s skeptics.

Led by Guilbert’s five goal performance and the defensive prowess of Prindall, Niden , and Ollis, the Rebels answered many questions in this opening day blowout.  Perhaps the most impressive element in this opening day victory was the depth of Walpole’s bench.  Foley and Maloney proved worthy of their starting jobs, contributing five and three goals respectively.  The Rebels look to continue their hot start on April 12, against the less than impressive Braintree Wamps.