Oxbridge drove back to Boca Raton last night on a clear, cool night, unlike Tuesday’s rainstorms, and ran a depleted Saint Andrew’s squad to their second loss of the season; utilizing a three-goal run in the second quarter to take a 3-goal halftime lead before pulling away in the second half for the win.
These two teams have put together quite the string of back and forth results for the last few seasons and this one fit pretty well.
What it came down to the most was a more effective offensive performance by the Thunderwolves (still waiting for the definitive answer as to what one of those is . . . ) and a solid effort on defense, with senior goalie Christian Tomei coming up with 11 saves on 18 shots on goal, while SA’s defense eventually wore down as Oxbridge’s motion offense started to connect more often in the second half. Some of that wearing down occurred from Oxbridge dominating the ground ball battles, particularly the long, draining battles. It seemed that they won almost all the 50/50 ones and given the even numbers at the faceoff dot, those extra possessions made a huge difference.
Both teams like to play a 6-man offense and patiently find open shots. But that takes the full complement and SA is missing more of that right now from last year’s group than Oxbridge is and it showed up big last night. 7 assists to 3 was a very revealing stat last night. Both teams rely on chemistry to drive their attack and Oxbridge did have more of that. But let’s remember that it is still two weeks into the season and kids heal and offenses’ improve over the course of the season. It was an excellent win for the Thunderwolves, but so was last season’s regular season game and look at the FHSAA result.
But SA should not just assume that things will come back to even easily. They are younger on defense and other teams on the schedule are hungry too. One such school lies four hours to the west and they are visiting Boca next Friday night and that will be a huge game for them too. Area fans should be putting that one on their schedule if they want to see another great game. Watching how SA evolves over the season as the lineup fully gets back in place will be a fun storyline to follow.
Oxbridge opened the scoring at 9:52 of the first as Jack Kilian went from up top down the right alley and found the top left corner for 1-0. About a minute later it was James Dorsey taking the feed all alone in front from Vinnie Cerasuolo after a lengthy ground ball battle and finishing with the right hand. SA cut it to 2-1 on an Adams Family (sorry, couldn’t resist even if the spelling is off) play, with long pole Louie winning the ground ball battle on the right wing and finding brother Matt on the low left wing, with Matt finishing while going down at 7:07, drawing a penalty on top. But Oxbridge killed the EMO and at 5:51 Ryan Conforti found Reece Riccardo cutting to the front from the wing and Riccardo finished to the high left for 3-1 after the first.
SA came out strong in the second and tallied twice to tie it up at 3. After a turnover it was Adams finding Max Schwarz in front on the fast break and Schwarz finished easily at 9:32 and less than a minute later it was Adams unassisted as he beat his defender to the cage from the left wing spin dodge, hitting the short side. But Oxbridge responded with a 3-goal run in 1:21 to open up the 6-3 lead. At 6:38, on the EMO, the OA ride turned the ball over out of bounds behind the SA cage and the quick restart gave Connor Davies the chance to circle the net and find Conforti cutting left wing for the step down right-hand low shot. 20 seconds later it was Kilian cutting from left wing to the middle and ripping to the top left corner and at 5:17 it was Davies working the low left and getting under the defender for the crease shot. SA’s Adams got one back at 1:18 as he inverted up top and found the cage with the left hand but with 28 seconds to go it was Davies finding a cutting Riccardo on the left side for the short side shot and it was OA 7-4 at the half.
OA took control fully in the third, with three early goals to open the game up. At 10:21 it was Riccardo with the low swim dodge on the right wing and the low left corner shot. Kilian dodged in from the right wing and finished with the left hand off the right hip at 9:13 and Riccardo again taking advantage of a picked clearing pass, going solo down the left alley and scoring from 10 yards straight away with 7:59 to go. Michael Lizzio was able to get one back at 6:18 off a right alley dodge for 10-5, only to be answered by Cerasuolo taking a Davies feed for the left wing step down at 4:22. Reid Malkin made it 11-6 at 2:20 on his own right alley dodge and that’s how the 3rd ended.
Oxbridge put the game away in the fourth with the first three goals and that was answered by a late SA goal to make the final 14-7. Conforti unassisted, Gio Villasana from Riccardo and a late Riccardo EMO off the Davies feed with SA’s Harrison Konsker taking the Adams feed to complete the scoring.
Both teams are back in action on Wednesday with district games, Oxbridge taking on Wellington and SA facing an improving Boca Raton.
Faceoffs: OA 14-13
Shots: SA 30-28
Shots on Goal: OA 22-18
Turnovers: OA 18-15
Penalties: OA 6-3
Reece Riccardo 5G/1A
Jack Kilian 3G/1A
Connor Davies 1G/3A
Ryan Conforti 2G/1A
Vinnie Cerasuolo 1G/1A
James Dorsey and Gio Villasana with 1G each
Christian Tomei made 11 saves
Matt Adams 3G/2A
Max Schwarz, Michael Lizzio, Reid Malkin and Harrison Konsker with 1G each
Louie Adams 1A
Jake Knowles and Gunnar Schwarz combined for 8 saves
Thanks to Coach Seaman and Coach Ross for talking to me before and after the game.