WATERTOWN — Turning back a push in the second half, Watertown continued its recent dominance of archrival Carthage in boys lacrosse Thursday night.
Three different players scored two goals each and the Cyclones rode another strong defensive effort to defeat the Comets, 11-7, in a Frontier League game at Watertown High School.
But, as usual Carthage didn’t go down without a fight, making a push in the second half before Watertown gradually pulled away.
“They’re obviously well-coached, and they work hard and fight hard, and the same with South (Jefferson) the other day,” Watertown coach Brian Navarra said of Carthage. “They’re disciplined, they execute as their coach wants them to. But we’re just playing really sloppy right now and we’re not at where we want to be.”
Nico Spaziani scored two goals and assisted on another, and Jack Adams and Joe Girardi each tallied a pair of goals to help lift Watertown (6-0 overall, 5-0 league).
“It feels good,” Girardi, a senior defender, said. “It was a good win, but it wasn’t a great win, we definitely played sloppy, but I think we’re going to learn from this and definitely play better in our upcoming games.”
The Cyclones won their seven consecutive games against the Comets — a streak that dates back to 2018.
“It is, it’s definitely a rivalry game,” Girardi said. “The fans are always just loud, so to take one from them is always a good feeling. Beating them is definitely a great sign.”
“They definitely have our number,” Carthage coach Jason Coffman said. “They’re really talented and they kept us around a little bit with some turnovers, but when they took care of the ball, it was really hard for us to stop them.”
Watertown orchestrated another solid defensive effort by allowing four goals and only three in the second half, including one in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense just starts with our goalie (Patrick Duah) who is an animal in there and we all just motivate each other and help each other out,” Girardi said. “We’re always there for each other, so it’s just a great group of guys to defend with.”
Duah finished with nine saves for the Cyclones.
“We are doing well on defense, I mean Pat Duah was a wall in the net,” Navarra said. “And we’ve got five defenders that are all really solid, so we can rotate them in and out, we’re confident in them. It got a little sloppy at times tonight, but overall we’re happy with the potential of our defense.”
Trailing 6-4 at halftime, Carthage responded with back-to-back goals to tie the game. Josh Bigelow scored an unassisted goal and drew even as Grant Dicob finished off a feed from Marcus Hickey with 7 minutes and 23 seconds left in the third quarter.
“It was tough today, they did a good job of packing it in in a zone and so we knew they would play a zone,” Navarra said of Carthage. “We had some things that we wanted to do against that zone, we just didn’t really execute that. But when we needed it, some guys stepped up and we were able to put the ball in the back of the net.”
But Watertown bounced back as Adams scored the go-ahead goal unassisted with 4:14 left in the quarter for a 7-6 lead.
“We played pretty good, but definitely not like the best game we’ve had,” Spaziani, a sophomore midfielder, said. “We started out slow with turnovers, but we’ll definitely come back after that and have a better game for the rest of the season.”
Kade Loftus and Kyan Combs each generated a goal later in the period, with Combs scoring with 22 seconds left in the period to build a 9-6 lead.
“We got it to 6-6 halfway through the third quarter and then it seems to be what we go through as a team right now,” Coffman said. “We get to a point where we’re being successful and then we kind of take a break and the other team makes us pay for it. And it’s hard to continually fight back, we’ve got to start games better.”
The Comets drew to within 9-7 on Noah Odett’s goal with 10:58 left in regulation, but Mick O’Donnell followed with a goal with 5:13 left, and 54 seconds later, Spaziani added a goal for the final margin.
“We did do well, but we also got to start finishing in the first and second quarter, instead of waiting for the third and fourth quarter and come around,” Spaziani said.
“Against better teams, we need to possess the ball better and really just slow down,” Navarra said. “We’re in such a hurry right now and we’ve got to slow down and not turn the ball over so much.”
Bigelow scored three goals to pace hard-luck Carthage (1-5, 1-3).
Goalie Corey Decker made 14 saves to keep the Comets within reach.
At one point this season, Carthage lost three straight games by one-goal decisions, including an 8-7 home loss in overtime to South Jefferson on April 4.
“It’s tough, we’re in a rough patch right now,” Coffman said. “We’ve lost five in a row and the kids are playing their butts off, they’re playing their tails off. The kids are playing hard and they’re getting better, it’s just not winning games is very frustrating.”
This marks the midway mark of the league season for Watertown, but Navarra stressed the team has much to improve on.
“We’ve got to improve a lot, I mean we’re fighting it,” Navarra said. “I know our record is 6-0 now, but we feel like we’re underperforming right now and we know we’ve got a lot of untapped potential.”
The two teams will square off again in a week as Watertown plays at Carthage at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday.
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