Boys' Lacrosse

Hulking goalie anchors Reading

By Jason Mastrodonato
Globe Correspondent / May 14, 2012
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Reading lacrosse coach Charlie Hardy describes the usual pregame scene as such: The referees look across the field and notice a hulking, 6-foot-4-inch, 260-pound man with a goalie stick. They proceed to question Hardy about the player’s eligibility.

“Is he a graduate student?’’ they say. “That’s got to be a coach.’’

No, Hardy assures them. Matt Comerford is simply the nicest kid in the world. And one heck of a ball-stopper.

The junior has been a stalwart for the Rockets this season with a Middlesex League-best 5.44 goals-against average, a big part in the squad’s seven-game winning streak, which included a bit of revenge against Winchester last Thursday.

After the Sachems handed Hardy’s group its first loss in early April, the surging Rockets came back with a 9-5 victory.

The difference, Hardy says, is a squad that’s finally figuring things out. And, of course, a hulking goalie who seems to get better with the weather.

“We’re not the most highly publicized team,’’ Hardy said. “We don’t play on the South Shore and we’re not Duxbury or Hingham. But this kid can be a legit Division 1 goalie.’’

The thing that separates Comerford, also a standout tackle on the football team, from other goalies with big frames is his agility, said Westford Academy coach Matt Tholander.

“With oversized goalies, sometimes you try to pressure them with quick attackmen and force turnovers,’’ said Tholander, whose squad fell to Reading, 12-11, in overtime. “But this kid is an athlete. He can face dodge, handle the ball, run around and find the open man.

“And I’m telling you right now, the thing he does better than anyone else is get the ball up on transition. He can throw the ball 50, 60 yards downfield and stop it on a dime.’’

Ever since Nick Guenard, one of just four senior starters, suffered a broken leg after scoring against Arlington April 24, the Rockets have struggled to find offensive consistency. But Comerford, along with senior captains Billy Carnes and Brendan Camuso, have been good enough in the back to keep Reading in every game.

And while Hardy’s squad seems to get deeper as reserve players become more comfortable, a matchup with Concord-Carlisle May 23 could be quite a preview of the Division 2 tournament.

Nice run for A-B

It’d be hard to find a more successful three-game stretch than the one Acton-Boxboro just pulled off.

The Colonials knocked off Dual County League foes Westford Academy (12-4 record), Weston (10-4), and Lincoln-Sudbury (10-5) in 10 days.

What was even more impressive was the way they did it, scoring at least 15 goals every game, raising their Eastern Mass.-best average to 14.5.

“I knew this would be our chance to surprise some people this year,’’ said coach Pat Ammendolia. “We have 15 seniors, and a lot of them are experienced. Everyone says we have athletes, but they’re also pretty fine lacrosse players.’’

Tyler McKelvie has separated himself as one of the premier attackers in the state with an eye for the goal and a great lefthanded shot, while Kyle Soroka continues to provide stability as a two-way midfielder.

The Colonials (11-3) have a lighter schedule in their final four games, though they’ve already played some of the best teams from Division 1 and 2. Except for Duxbury.

Ammendolia smiles at the thought. “We’ll see them in the tournament,’’ he said.

Support for Gallagher

Tom Gallagher has been coaching in Chelmsford for 19 years and is known as a positive influence and role model.

But after a freak accident last December left him with a herniated disk that paralyzed him from the waist down, he’s been forced to coach from a wheelchair. Gallagher has led the Lions to a 7-8 record, including an overtime victory over Andover last Tuesday.

Though, as Jennifer Myers from the Lowell Sun points out, Gallagher needs some help. He’s a finalist to win a handicap-equipped van in a competition sponsored by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Online voting ended Sunday.

Games of the week

North Reading at Newburyport, Mon., 6 p.m. - The Division 2 title in the Cape Ann League is on the line between a pair of squads with just two losses combined.

Hingham at Scituate, Tues., 7 p.m. - The Sailors are surging and a win over the Harbormen could legitimize them as a Division 2 threat.

Wellesley at Newton North, Wed., 4 p.m. - The Bay State Conference leaders face off in what should be a low-scoring, hard-nosed affair.

St. John’s Prep at Billerica, Wed., 7 p.m. - Neither powerhouse has been at its best, but this is sure to be an exciting matchup as each prepares for the postseason.

Dover-Sherborn at Medfield, Fri., 7 p.m. - The Warriors look for payback from the Raiders, who shut them down, 7-5, in a late-April matchup.

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