The Warwick Vets boys’ lacrosse team came into the season with high expectations but suffered a disappointing 6-5 loss to Coventry in the season opener. The ’Canes then had a full week between games, a full week to get healthy, regroup, refocus and turn their attention to the next step.
It’s safe to say it was a productive week.
The ’Canes haven’t lost since the opener and they stretched their win streak to four on Tuesday with a 9-4 victory over East Providence.
“I can make a million excuses about what happened in the Coventry game – we were sick, we probably had too much adrenaline – but it boils down to us beating ourselves,” said head coach Fred Schweizer. “We had a week where we were able to regroup, talk about what we needed to do and learn from some of our mistakes. The guys have really responded. I’m proud of them.”
Vets is now 4-1 and sitting in a three-way tie for third place in Division III. Lincoln leads with a 6-0 record and two-time defending champion Smithfield is second at 5-0. Vets is tied with Coventry and Cranston West at 4-1.
For Vets, it’s been a steady rise. After the week off, the ’Canes rolled over North Smithfield/Burrillville 9-4 and beat Tiverton/Rogers 8-6 for their most impressive win yet. Tiverton/Rogers is 3-1 so far.
The next two games were against opponents that have struggled this year, and the ’Canes took care of business. They beat Scituate 14-5 before Tuesday’s victory over East Providence.
“We’re doing well right now,” Schweizer said. “We just need to stay focused and keep it going.”
Tuesday’s game was played in tough conditions, with temperatures in the 40s, a stiff wind and a steady rain.
But the ’Canes weren’t bothered in the slightest. They set the tone with a dominant first quarter and a quick surge at the start of the second. The Townies made some headway after that, but never really threatened.
The first quarter was just what Vets drew up, with the ’Canes completely controlling possession. On rare occasions when East Providence did touch the ball, Vets got it right back.
In the meantime, a patient offensive attack staked Vets to a 4-0 lead. Will Hay scored the first goal six minutes in after returning from an early injury. At the 10-minute mark, Nate Brotman made it 2-0 when he cut in from behind the net and buried a shot. Hay scored again late in the quarter before defender John McNally stole a pass and carried it all the way up for a shot and a goal in the final seconds.
“We’ve been working on patience and getting ground balls,” Schweizer said. “I think we did that very well. We really controlled the ball and when we lost it, the defense got it back for us.”
At the start of the second quarter, patience took a back seat as the ’Canes seized three quick opportunities. With the Townies on their heels, Vets got goals from Cody Sullivan, Mickenzey Pacheco and Thomas Zincone in the first two minutes of the period.
“I think they found their groove,” Schweizer said. “We can be a Jekyll and Hyde type of team within games. They’ll see a defense in the first quarter and if we make the proper adjustments, they’re very adept at going out and taking advantage of that. We were able to find some things we could exploit.”
The result was a comfortable 7-0 cushion, one that was made more comfortable by a steady effort at the defensive end. After the Vets surge early in the quarter, the Townies settled in and finally started to control the ball. But the Vets defense and goalie Kyle Corvese made sure the Townies couldn’t mount a comeback.
Kyle Medeiros bounced a hard shot at Corvese from close range around the 10-minute mark, but Corvese saved it. He then knocked away two good looks from Brant Hall.
The Townies finally broke through late in the first half on a goal by Kevin Hall, but Vets coasted into the break with a 7-1 lead.
Early in the second half, the Townies struck again, getting a goal from Medeiros to make it 7-2.
This time, though, Vets had an answer – and more defense. Two minutes after the East Providence goal, Cody Sullivan streaked in front of the goal and whipped in a left-handed shot to put Vets back in front 8-2. After the Townies made it 8-3 on a goal by Brant Hall, the Vets defense buckled down.
McNally, Tyler Moran and Max Andrade helped keep the Townies from getting clean looks. When they did, Corvese was there. He saved three shots in the final two minutes of the third quarter, one from point-blank range.
“He’s played really well,” Schweizer said. “Our defense is working well together and communicating and he’s keeping us out of trouble. He’s making the saves when we need them.”
Vets pushed the lead back to six on a goal from Dylan Robert in the final minute of the third quarter. East Providence got another goal from Medeiros early in the fourth, but the action was back-and-forth from there and neither team dented the scoreboard.
Vets celebrated another victory.
“I have very high expectations, so unfortunately for them, I don’t know if they’ll ever get exactly where I want them to be,” Schweizer said. “But at this point, I’m happy with where we are.”
Hay and Sullivan had two goals each to lead the Vets offense, while Brotman had a goal and three assists. Shawn Goff also tallied three assists. Corvese made 14 saves.
The ’Canes will be back in action Friday when they visit winless Cranston East at 7 p.m. at Cranston Stadium.
“It’s just the daily grind,” Schweizer said. “We have to continue to learn from out mistakes and continue to hone the fundamentals that make you successful in Division III lacrosse. We just have to take it one game at a time.”