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Amherst Regional overwhelms Wahconah boys lacrosse

  • Jon Traester of Amherst moves the ball down the field Thursday while being defended by Tim Wagner of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Jon Traester of Amherst moves the ball down the field Thursday while being defended by Tim Wagner of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Johnson of Amherst, left, moves the ball toward the goal Thursday while being defended by Sean Rice of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Nick Johnson of Amherst, left, moves the ball toward the goal Thursday while being defended by Sean Rice of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Melvin Espinoza-Rosa of Amherst looks to make a goal against Roger Steuman of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game Thursday at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Melvin Espinoza-Rosa of Amherst looks to make a goal against Roger Steuman of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game Thursday at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nick Johnson of Amherst, center, passes the ball Thursday while being defended by Matt Salvatore, left, and Connor Vandyke, both of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Nick Johnson of Amherst, center, passes the ball Thursday while being defended by Matt Salvatore, left, and Connor Vandyke, both of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Roger Steuman of Wahconah defends the goal while Luke Allen of Amherst takes a shot Thursday during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Roger Steuman of Wahconah defends the goal while Luke Allen of Amherst takes a shot Thursday during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Luke Allen of Amherst runs down the field after scoring against Wahconah Thursday during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Luke Allen of Amherst runs down the field after scoring against Wahconah Thursday during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Charlie Clark tries to take possession of the ball Thursday while being defended by Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

    Charlie Clark tries to take possession of the ball Thursday while being defended by Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.

    SARAH CROSBY Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jon Traester of Amherst moves the ball down the field Thursday while being defended by Tim Wagner of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Nick Johnson of Amherst, left, moves the ball toward the goal Thursday while being defended by Sean Rice of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Melvin Espinoza-Rosa of Amherst looks to make a goal against Roger Steuman of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game Thursday at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Nick Johnson of Amherst, center, passes the ball Thursday while being defended by Matt Salvatore, left, and Connor Vandyke, both of Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Roger Steuman of Wahconah defends the goal while Luke Allen of Amherst takes a shot Thursday during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Luke Allen of Amherst runs down the field after scoring against Wahconah Thursday during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY
  • Charlie Clark tries to take possession of the ball Thursday while being defended by Wahconah during a boys lacrosse game at Amherst Regional High School.<br/><br/>SARAH CROSBY

But Thursday night’s first-round victory showed the Hurricanes have put all aspects of their game together at the right time.

Amherst scored six goals in a six-minute span of the opening quarter and rolled to a 14-1 victory over Wahconah Regional at home.

“It started off a little slow for us, but it was really hot and there are other distractions going on, so overall it’s a nice way to start the playoffs,” Amherst coach Matt Crutch said. “We moved the ball and shot the ball really well.”

The starting unit for the ’Canes pitched a shutout through the first three quarters before many of them left the game. Senior goalie Will Barstow needed to make only four saves, while John Noonan stopped one in the final quarter.

“It’s awesome to get such a win. I certainly didn’t expect this kind of a differential,” senior defender Charlie Clark said. Wahconah “played really hard and they have some good players — we were just on our game. That’s an amazing last game on our home field.”

Seniors Nick Johnson (four goals, three assists) and Kieran Presley (two goals, three assists) sparked the Amherst attack. Luke Allen posted three goals, Drew Kosloski scored twice with an assist, and Isaac Bass, Melvin Espinoza-Rosa and Ben Thompson added a tally apiece.

“We’re pretty confident in all of our guys on attack, and we like to move the ball around,” Johnson said. “It took a few minutes to get going, but the first tournament game is always tough. It’s a whole different attitude.”

No. 5 Amherst (12-7) will take a four-game winning streak to No. 4 Westfield (14-5) in the quarterfinal round at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Bombers defeated No. 13 St. Joseph-Central 23-1 in another first-round game Thursday.

In two regular-season meetings between the Hurricanes and Westfield, each team won its home game in overtime.

“It’s going to be a tough, close game,” Crutch said. “Westfield is a hard-nosed team and we’ll expect their best. But we’ve weathered the storm we had a few weeks ago and are playing some good lacrosse right now.”

The No. 12 Warriors (8-9) received stellar goaltending from Roger Stedman, who made 15 saves. He did not get much help from his defense which allowed Amherst to score many of its goals right in front of the net.

“The front of the cage opened up for us once we settled down a bit and played more patiently,” Johnson said.

The second-year Wahconah varsity program played its first postseason game, and the Warriors avoided a shutout when Quinn Caesar scored unassisted with just under five minutes remaining in regulation.

Wahconah had a fair share of possession time in the first quarter, but the Hurricanes forced numerous turnovers with an aggressive defensive style. Amherst controlled the ball for nearly all of the middle two quarters.

“We put our hearts into every game, and we play our hardest until every whistle,” Clark said. “Will (Barstow) takes up most of the load for us — he makes lots of key saves to keep us in games. Our defensive unit has played together for so long and we’re ready for anything.”

Asked about his role as the leader of one of the stingiest defensive units in the area, Clark added, “I’m a very physical player and I never want to end up on an opposing player’s highlight film. I never take a second off, and the rest of our team does the same.”

The win marked the final home game for the Hurricanes’ senior class, which helped resurrect a program that did not make the tournament its freshman season.

“It’s a little bittersweet,” Johnson said. “We’d love to get another chance to play at home, but we just need to focus on the next one. If we can stay focused, outhustle (Westfield) and stay patient on offense, with our defense we should have a good shot.”

Michael Wilkinson can be reached at mwilkinson@gazettenet.com.

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