Whitaker, Wood help Boardman notch W
By Greg Gulas
Devin Whitaker scored a career-high four goals, Alexander Wood added three and Nick Beck’s two to lead the Boardman boys lacrosse team to an 11-3 victory over Poland on Friday at Baird Mitchell Field.
It was the Spartans’ second win in 17 days over the Bulldogs as they swept the season series from their Route 224 foes.
“This is huge win for us because we were coming off a defeat earlier this week,” Whitaker said. “We needed to gain some momentum moving forward and a win like this will really help. The game plan was to focus on our defense and just shoot, make one move, get it to the net and that really seemed to work for us.”
It took just one minute and 17 seconds for Poland (1-3) to wrest the lead, which came on Kincaid Mrakovich’s goal for an early 1-0 advantage.
Whitaker’s initial goal at 6:05 knotted the score at 1 as the teams battled to a deadlock after the opening frame.
Justin Blasko’s goal 38 seconds into the second period helped Poland regain the lead at a 2-1, but Whitaker’s second tally at 7:27 knotted the game for the second time.
When Beck notched the first of his two goals at the 4:30 mark, it gave the Spartans the lead permanently at 3-2.
“A lot of it was winning the battle in front and getting lucky passes, getting through the middle and then just putting it in the back of the net,” Beck said. “We played really well as a team, so a win like this serves as a confidence builder as well.”
The first of Wood’s three goals — he now has five on the season — with 50 seconds remaining in the opening half then staked the Spartans (2-2) to a 4-2 halftime margin.
“We were able to beat them the first time around, but knew this game was going to be just as competitive, if not more so than the first one,” Wood said. “Staying focused the entire time and working together as a team was the key.”
A goal by Justin Fernberg 22 seconds after intermission and Whitaker’s third score with 2:16 remaining extended the Spartans’ lead to 6-2 heading to the final frame.
Wood’s second tally with 11:02 remaining gave Boardman six unanswered scores and staked the Spartans to a 7-2 lead.
“Devin is a tough player and a senior leader who just leaves everything out on the field,” Boardman head coach Dave Peters said. “Alexander has great stick skills who seems to sneak around everybody while Beck, like Whitaker, is one of our hockey players and he just has the moves with his stick.”
Peyton Mrakovich cut the Poland deficit to 7-3 with 10:03 left, but four unanswered goals by Wood, Mitchell Brunko, Whitaker and Beck rounded out the scoring to give Boardman its first road win of the campaign.
“To me, it’s a desire thing. I think the boys just kind of let it up and they got a little bit lackadaisical with it,” Bulldogs head coach Stephen Lee said about the Spartans’ six unanswered goals. “We’re coming off of spring break so a lot of the boys are still trying to get their heads back in the game, so a lot it comes down to that. It’s frustrating in that you see a 2-1 lead dissipate and the next thing you know the game ends 11-3.”