SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The South Kingstown boys lacrosse team put an end to their five-year playoff drought last Friday. Squaring off against No. 7 Ponaganset, the No. 2 Rebels coasted to their first postseason win since the 2014 season, winning 19-7.
“We played well, we’ve been working hard,” first-year head coach Tom Cauchon said. “Mike Boynton, the assistant coach, and I had a good week of practice. We were ready to play. We’ve been gearing up for this. We had a week and change off, so we were looking forward to this. We finished up the [regular season] nine days ago.”
The long layoff didn’t allow any rust to form for a Rebel team that only lost a single time all season. SK scored the first five goals of the afternoon and the Chieftains never got within six goals following the end of the first quarter.
Nine different Rebels scored a goal in the emphatic win. Mike Boynton scored six times to lead the SK attack, and Max Willette was the only other Rebel to score more than twice (four goals).
“Max can shoot the ball,” Cauchon said. “He’s a good player. He had a really good game for us. When everyone is rolling [like they were today], we’re a very good team.”
The Rebels were up 5-0 within the first six minutes of the first quarter. Willette scored three of his four goals in that span, while Boynton and Zacharie Hupf handled the others.
SK put up crooked numbers on opponents consistently this season, but their diverse attack would not be as dangerous were it not for the team’s strong defense.
Sophomore Justin Bader held up strong in goal for the Rebels in the playoff win. The netminder had to deal with a Chieftain offense desperate for a comeback, but he consistently kept them at bay.
“Our goaltender has been outstanding all year,” Cauchon said. “[Bader] really played well. The defense – everyone thinks of us as an offensive team – but we can play defense when we need to.”
Ponaganset scored consecutive goals on only one occasion, to make it 12-5 in the second quarter. SK responded with two quick ones before the half, and never had to sweat the result in the second.
It was a skills exhibition for the Rebels at times, who were more than happy to put a show on for the home crowd. Nathan Smith kicked off the second quarter with a speedy, coast-to-coast goal and it just got showier from there.
Junior Matt Boynton had the goal of the day, going behind his back to put SK up 11-3. Brother Mike scored the next goal on a breakaway goal that started on a beautiful transition pass from Connor Horiagon.
Transition play was key for the Rebels in the win. Their speed in the midfield allowed them to turn Ponaganset turnovers into quick goals. Jack McCarty used some of his soccer skills to burn the Chieftains defense on a handful of occasions.
“We have speed out there,” Cauchon said. “When we get a chance to go, we go.”
Ponaganset won the faceoff battle in both halves, 11-9 in the first and 5-4 in the second. The Rebel defense and midfield neutralized any advantage the Chieftains might have gained from the slight edge in faceoff wins.
The quarterfinal win sets up a semifinal matchup with Prout. The Crusaders beat Coventry in their opening round meeting. That game hadn’t ended by the time SK’s game was over, but the message couldn’t have been any clear: they’ll play whoever gets put in front of them.
“They don’t care,” Cauchon said. “They try to take it one game at a time. We’re looking forward to whoever’s there.”
The Crusaders were one of the few teams to give SK trouble in the regular season. The Rebels eventually pulled out the win, 16-14. As the No. 2 seed, the Rebels will host the Crusaders at CCMS today at 6:00 pm.