Cranston East junior attacker Brennan Haid scored seven goals to lead the Thunderbolts boys’ lacrosse team past by the Johnston Panthers 11-8 on Friday afternoon at Cranston Stadium.
East’s Ethan Mulholland, also a junior, pitched in three goals, senior Jamison Cannata had a goal and four assists and freshman Pat Maguire added six assists.
This is Johnston’s first year playing in Division III. The past two seasons, the Panthers have been a club team.
The ‘Bolts went up by as much as 9-1 during the contest before the Panthers fought their way back into it.
“It was a lackluster effort out of the gate, but we got a spark from some of our younger players who obviously have been paying attention on the sidelines and watching the mistakes that the older guys have made,” Johnston head coach Jay Sabitoni said. “They went in there and made a difference and they sparked this team to getting back on track. Because we were spinning our wheels with our starters. The young blood was the spark today. I’m optimistic about the future of this program when I see the impact that young players make on a day like today.”
There’s still a long way to go in the season and Sabitoni predicts that his Panthers will turn it around and hopes to finish the season at least at .500.
“The teams that we faced so far, we’re going to get them next time,” Sabitoni said. “I see us putting up a .500 season this year. There’s no reason why we can’t rebound. We’re 0-4, we’ve got nine or ten more games left and we’re getting better every single game, every single day. So, I’m happy with the progress we’re making. We’ve had some tough opponents’ right out of the gate that were a little discouraging, but we’re on track. This was a good team that beat us today. We didn’t help ourselves, we made some mental errors, but everybody gave 100 percent and that’s all I can ask for.”
On the opposing side, Cranston East and its head coach James Creamer are planning on making the playoffs for the first time in their five-year history.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Creamer said. “We’ve never made the playoffs since we started.”
East’s highest win total in a season has been five wins and they are on pace to beat that after getting their fourth victory against the Panthers.
“We’re certainly moving in the right direction,” Creamer said. “The kids are having a great season and they’re working hard.”
“Today’s effort was good,” Creamer added. “We got up early and then we got to use a lot of guys. To Johnston’s credit, they came back there and they forced us to put our top guys back in. It was a good overall game.”
According to Creamer, East’s top offensive weapons this season are Cannata, Haid, and Mulholland. On the defensive side, Creamer said Dany Gomez has been great in net, while Evan Neary and Omar Reyes have been stellar on defense in front of him.
Less than two minutes into the game East got on the board when Cannata assisted to Mulholland and he ripped it past Brad Testa, the Panthers senior goaltender and put the ‘Bolts up 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, the ‘Bolts did it again when Haid made a steal at the Johnston 35-yard line and drove down and rocketed it past Testa, increasing the ‘Bolts edge to 2-0.
With 3:14 remaining in the first quarter, Cannata found Haid, who rifled it past the Johnston keeper and gave East a 3-0 edge.
Early in the second quarter, Johnston had a chance when junior Sean Anderson passed to Patrick Young, but his shot attempt was stopped by East’s Gomez before it went out of bounds. On the inbound pass, Johnston’s Justin Blais assisted in front to Anderson, who ripped a shot past Gomez, pulling the Panthers within 3-1 with 11:30 remaining in the second quarter.
With 7:02 remaining in the half, Maguire passed to Haid and he netted his fourth straight goal, putting the ‘Bolts up 4-1.
Three minutes later, East struck again when Haid assisted to Cannata for a wrister in front, which extended the ‘Bolts advantage to 5-1.
Less than a minute later, Cannata returned the favor, when in front he dumped it off to a driving Haid, who buried it into the back of the net and gave East a 6-1 lead.
Thirty seconds into the second half, Haid lit the lamp again when he sniped one into the back of the net from 30 yards out and gave East a 7-1 cushion.
Twenty two seconds later, Mulholland scored to extend East’s lead to 8-1.
A minute and a half later, Maguire assisted to Haid for another tally, which ballooned the ‘Bolts advantage to 9-1 with 9:33 to play in the third quarter.
Johnston inched closer a minute later when junior Steven Gaunt passed in front to Zachary Morin, a sophomore, and he fired it past Gomez and got the Panthers within 9-2.
With 4:16 remaining in the third, Cannata found Mulholland and he flung it past Testa and put the ‘Bolts up 10-2.
A minute and a half later, Johnston’s Gaunt found the back of the net from 28 yards out and got the Panthers within 10-3.
Then, with ten seconds remaining in the period, Joe Patterson found junior Jack Frenier for a goal and got the Panthers within 10-4.
With 9:20 to play, Johnston’s Patterson passed to Gaunt, but his shot deflected off the left post and then down the other end, East’s Haid scored to increase the ‘Bolts lead to 11-4.
With 7:10 remaining, Johnston’s Mahki Thimas passed to Sean Anderson and he fired it past Reyes, who was now in net for East, making it 11-5.
With 4:58 remaining, Johnston’s Evan Laplante picked up a loose ball and put it in the net and made it 11-6.
Johnston’s Anderson earned another goal when he fired one in from 24 yards out to pull the Panthers within 11-7 with 4:22 remaining.
Johnston earned its last tally when Anderson scored on a fast break with 1:39 remaining and got the Panthers within 11-8.
East improves to 4-2 with the victory and Johnston falls to 0-3.