May 26—WATERTOWN — The showdown for supremacy in the Frontier League in boys lacrosse featured another encounter between the top two goalies and defenses in the league this year.
Evan Richardson outdueled fellow senior Joe Clement to back Watertown to a 7-6 triumph over General Brown on Tuesday night in a tight, hard-hitting Frontier League boys lacrosse game at Watertown High School.
Richardson made 19 saves, including 10 in the second half, as the Cyclones swept the two-game season series with the Lions.
“It was a really great game, we knew it was going to be a close game,” Richardson said. “They came out to play for sure, but defensively I thought the guys in front of me played really well.”
Watertown, which improved to 8-3 and 6-1 in the league, has won five consecutive games in league play, including an 11-5 victory over General Brown on May 13.
“It feels good, honestly it’s the first time we’ve beaten General Brown twice in one year and that’s a credit to our program,” Watertown coach Brian Navarra said. “Tonight was just an awesome, old-school atmosphere, we finally had people in the stands yelling and screaming, it was an exciting atmosphere, it’s been like two years since we’ve had that.”
Sophomore Jack Clough scored four goals, including the go-ahead goal in the fourth quarter to pace Watertown offensively.
“This was a lot tighter, but we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Clough said. “They made a lot of changes, we made changes, and we just kept pushing and got the win. We feel amazing, this is the best we’ve felt all year.”
But Richardson, who is headed to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, was quick to credit his defenders as for the second straight meeting, the Cyclones turned in a defensive gem against the Lions.
Clement finished with 11 saves and senior Corey O’Connor scored three goals and assisted on another to pace the Lions (7-4, 6-2).
“Both goalies played very well,” General Brown coach Rich Purvis said.
“There’s big things, there’s goals, there’s assists, all the big stats,” Richardson said. “But what they don’t count is what happens between the lines in the midfield. We knew coming in that if we won the ground-ball game, we were going to win the game, with rides and clears I thought we did really well.”
The game went down to the wire with the Cyclones leading 5-4 entering the final quarter.
“We knew going in it was going to be physical, that’s what General Brown plays,” Navarra said. “And I think our guys both times we played General Brown, we were very gritty, we played very hard and physical ourselves, which the kids bought into. And I’m very proud of them for being very gritty, we’ve been using that word ‘grit’ for the whole year.”
O’Connor pulled General Brown even at 5-5 with his unassisted goal only 20 seconds into the last period.
But Clough saved his last two goals of the night for the final stretch as he put Watertown in front at 6-5 with his goal with 9 minutes and 25 seconds left in regulation and added a goal with 7:14 left after the Cyclones had killed off a Lions’ man-up chance.
Senior Vince Lavarnway, who also scored a goal, assisted on both of Clough’s tallies in the fourth quarter.
“It was the best feeling ever, just to know that I just got us the lead,” Clough said. “Vince Lavarnway, who’s probably our best feeder and dodger, just passed it to me a couple times.”
“Jack is really good at finding that open space,” Navarra said.
Richardson then denied O’Connor’s breakaway bid with 5:15 left, before General Brown drew within 7-6 on Hayden Coney’s goal with 3:40 remaining, with Gabe Malcolm assisting.
Watertown then killed off part of a General Brown man-up opportunity, before it was awarded its own man-up chance with under two minutes to play.
After the game appeared to be over and Cyclones players stormed Richardson in celebration, officials put five seconds back on the game clock with the Lions in possession of the ball, but they couldn’t manage a shot on net.
“Our defensive middies, those guys worked really hard all game long,” Richardson said. “You could just see it, if I could describe our guys in one word, it would be relentless. I saw guys run up and down the field all game long, they come back and play hard-nosed defense and we get the ball back and go down and score.”
He continued: “The guys in front of me played great, those defensemen Kenny Forbes, Colton Young, Riley Connell, those guys played a heck of a game,” Richardson said.
While General Brown still occupies first place in the Frontier League, Watertown sits only one-half game back in the standings and has the inside track to the league title.
“We knew coming into this game we were going to play a different team this time,” Richardson said. “We knew they were going to have a lot of energy and be hungry, because for us, this is the Frontier League championship, so to speak. We knew if we won this game, we would have a much better shot at winning the league.”
Watertown scored three goals in the opening quarter, blanking General Brown in the process, with the Lions scoring the only two goals the second quarter as the Cyclones led 3-2 at haltime.
“Just another slow start for us,” Purvis said. “The first quarter hurt us. They always play with a lot of energy and we didn’t match it in the first.”
General Brown, which never led in the game, managed to draw even on two occasions in the third quarter, the last at 4-4 with 5:26 left on O’Connor’s man-up goal, but sophomore Kyan Combs provided Watertown with a 5-4 advantage with his unassisted goal with 2:22 left in the quarter.
The Cyclones have four league games left, including hosting rival Carthage, also at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“We knew going into the game it was going to be a battle, we talked to our guys about throwing the first punch and then we would probably have to take a punch or two,” Navarra said. “But the guys hung in there. I’m confident in our guys, we’ve got 15 seniors, so we have some really good leaders.”
Clough added: “It’s great, because our season from now on is dedicated to Geoff Eliopoulos, so to just to get that win for him is amazing,” Clough said of Eliopoulos, a former lacrosse coach at the youth level in Watertown who passed away last Thursday. “He was a mentor for a lot of us.”
The Lions have three games remaining in league play, including a game at South Jefferson at 7 p.m. Thursday.