Playoff Contenders Take Battle to Final Week

PrimeTime upset over Blazers gives team 4th place, for now

The Minutemen stood less than eight minutes from clinching a playoff berth, with a three-goal lead over the Boston Box Lacrosse League’s first-place team, only to see Bullseye reel off five straight goals to escape with a 14-13 win that sends the battle for the league’s fourth playoff spot down to its final game.

In the second game on Jan. 24 at South Shore Sports Center in Hingham, Mass., PrimeTime broke an 8-8 tie with the Blazers at 4:01 of the second half on Brett Serriello’s third score of the night and replacement goalie Jason Brooks made it stand up for a 10-8 upset.

The action sets up a winner-take-all battle for the last playoff berth between PrimeTime and the Minutemen on Jan. 31, the last week of regular-season action.

In the opener, the Minutemen jumped out to a 3-0 lead, only to see Bullseye reel them back in, starting a theme for the night; the teams took turns taking, and then giving up, one-goal leads until the game was tied at 7 at halftime.

Bryce Serriello scored three of the first five goals in the second half as the Minutemen built an 11-8 edge, and Alex Whitney’s shorthanded goal – while the Minutemen were two men down – made the score 12-9 with just under 8 minutes remaining. Just as the Minutemen might have been seeing a win – which would have clinched the playoffs – Bullseye put together a run, triggered by two goals and an assist from John Uppgren, the latter a feed to Chris Breiner who tied things up at 12 with 4:26 remaining in regulation.

Matt Thistle came off a Chris Curtis feed to bury his first goal and give Bullseye a lead with 3:17 remaining, and Uppgren netted another goal a minute later. A late goal from the Minutemen’s Ed Doherty tightened the score, but Joe Nardella controlled the ensuing faceoff and Bullseye was able to kill off the clock to sneak off with a victory.

Bullseye dominated the game statistically, with almost 20 more loose balls and 22 more shots on goal, but stellar goaltending from Alex Krawec (36 saves) and pinpoint shooting from Serriello – whose six goals gave him the league’s scoring lead – along with four goals and four assists from Doherty allowed the Minutemen to give Bullseye all it could handle. Whitney and Mark MacDonald contributed multi-point nights for the losers.

Bullseye got five goals and an assist from Uppgren, four goals and two helpers from Will Walker and multi-point nights from Breiner, Thistle and Greg Lally. Nardella added 17 loose balls to his league-leading total; he currently has more than twice as many loosies as all-but-one players in the league.

The nightcap was another tight game as the Blazers squared off with PrimeTime; Sean Lawton hit two outside bombs to help PrimeTime build a 3-1 lead and Marco Barbone picked up a goal and an assist as the lead expanded to 5-2, only to see the Blazers score four straight markers – two from Greg Rogowski and two, including a buzzer-beater from Marty Bowes – to grab a 6-5 edge at the half.

Brendan Grant fed Kam Bumpus and then Brett Serriello as PrimeTime re-took the lead; in all, Grant would register four assists in the second half. The teams traded goals until Serriello converted a feed from Ken Keirstead. Jack Murphy’s late goal made the final 10-8.

Marco Barbone earned Legit Lacrosse Player of the Week honors as he keyed the PrimeTime defense in front of replacement goalie Jason Brooks. Barbone registered six caused turnovers – a season high for any player in the league – and added six loose balls and his two points.

Serriello finished with a hat trick, while Bumpus and Lawton had their pair of goals and Alex Bunick added two points for the night. Brooks registered 27 saves.

The Blazers were led by goalie Joe Evans, who made 37 saves and who stymied PrimeTime on four of its six man-advantage situations, including a lengthy two-man down opportunity with the game tied in the second half. Rogowski netted four goals and added two assists – giving him the league lead in feeds – and Bowes added a hat trick. The two sit tied atop the league’s points race, having finished their regular-season play. Ira Catron added a goal and an assist in the defeat.

The action sets up a winner-take-all finale between PrimeTime and the Minutemen at 9 p.m. on Jan. 31. If the Minutemen win, they will tie PrimeTime for fourth place, but will capture the playoff spot by virtue of having won the season-series between the two teams. If PrimeTime wins and the MegaWhales lose the nightcap against Bullseye, PrimeTime would finish tied for third place and would earn the third playoff seed by virtue of having swept the season series with the MegaWhales.

The Boston Box Lacrosse League, a member of US Indoor Lacrosse, plays at South Shore Sports Center in Hingham. For stats, standings and more information on the league, go to BostonBoxLax.com. The league posts announcements and commentary on Twitter and can be followed @BostonBoxLax.

Legit Player of the Week honors go to the individual whose all-around contributions had the most significant impact to his team’s performance. Legit Lacrosse operates lacrosse superstores in Mashpee Commons and Hanover, Mass., with everything a player could possibly need to make his or her game legit, including a full selection of box equipment. For more information, go to legitlacrosse.com; on Twitter @LegitLacrosse.

South Shore Sports Center is located at 55 Recreation Park Drive in Hingham; fans and friends can watch games from the arena seating or at the Skybox Lounge, where food and drinks are served. Information is available at southshoresportscenter.com.