pburke@ricentral.com

NARRAGANSETT – No. 3 Prout’s boys lacrosse team got through a late challenge from No. 6 Coventry, before winning Friday afternoon’s Division II quarterfinal matchup at Domenic Christofaro Park, 11-7.

When the teams last played at the end of April in Coventry, the Oakers had one of their better performances on the year and gave Prout one of their three regular-season losses. Coventry won that one 15-6 with an explosive 10 goals in the second half while stopping nearly every shot that Prout had to offer.  

It was a combination of spectacular goalkeeping and outright dominance of the faceoff, but the Crusaders made some adjustments this second time around to neutralize Coventry’s advantage on the possession side. As a result, the outcome was flipped in the face of higher stakes and Prout prevailed with a much more thought-out offensive attack.

“Last time we played them we didn’t win a single face-off,” Crusader head coach John Hooper Jr. said.  “They won them all. And we changed our strategy this time. Their faceoff guy [senior Chris Leander] is a former Prout player, and he’s very good. In fact, he taught our guy how to face off.”

“What we did was put a long-stick in there,” Hooper continued. “A big defenseman, and rather than try to win the faceoff outright by clamping, we tried to nullify and let our guys come in to make it a three-on-three ground-ball. We probably won 30-35 percent. That was a big factor because we had more possessions.”

In Friday’s playoff rematch, Coventry was down 7-4 in the third quarter before making it 7-5 with 3:11 left to go. Down a man in the fourth quarter, Coventry quieted the hometown fans by making it 7-6 and it looked like they had control of the tempo.

Coventry had a few chances to tie things at the net but were either denied by Prout’s stout defense or by their own mishaps.  At 6:48, they put together a nice one-two-three passing combination in the Crusader’s zone and got off a good shot, but it went wide in the face of Terrance Carbon, who stopped 12 for the Crusaders.

The Crusader defensemen did their part in front of Carbon, making a number of steals and stops after Coventry threatened and got the game down to a one-goal margin at, 7-6 with 9:47 left.

“Our defense plays very hard,” Hooper said.  “[junior] Ethan Longolucco had a nice game. As well as a number of the other guys back there.”

Sophomore attacker Zach Bell led the way for the Crusader’s offense, getting seven points on five goals and two assists.  Beginning at 6:26 in the fourth, Bell scored back-to-back goals that frustrated the Oakers and gave Prout a significant cushion at 8-6.  On the eighth Prout score, sophomore defenseman Drew Brouillette intercepted Coventry’s outlet pass after a brilliant save and Bell got the ball and capitalized on a running shot that bounced in.

“He was first team All-Division,” Hooper said of Bell. “He’s an Academic All-State selection; he’s probably one of the best lacrosse athletes I’ve ever coached.”

Senior midfielder Jake Moniz picked up five points with three assists and two scores.  Junior midfielder Colin Bois had three points with two assists and one goal.  Brouillette had two goals.  Sophomore attacker Wells Masterson had one assist and sophomore middie Marc Mastrangelo had one goal.

“Another thing that was a big difference was our shot selection,” Hooper continued.  “We made their goalie look like one of the best in the country because we just kept hitting him and hitting him. We were more patient with the ball this time around, and we waited until we had better shots. The shots we scored on were hard for [their goalie] to stop.”

“In this game,” Hooper continued. “All these kids want to score, but they need to do that within the framework of what we’ve taught them to do since March 18th. When they execute, as long as they’re patient, that’s the key with lacrosse being patient.”

In the DII Semifinal at Curtis Corner Middle School on Wednesday, Prout will take on No. 2 South Kingstown (13-1). In their previous matchup, SK came back from an early deficit to win 16-14 over Prout.

At 11-3 this season, Prout has had their best season since 2017’s 12-1 DII runners-up.  Two years before that, they went 13-0 as DII champions.

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