Pioneers' power lies in defense.


Byline: Rick Eggleston


Eight games, eight wins. Suffice to say, the St. John's boys' lacrosse team is off to a red-hot start, and that is due in large part to its defense.

"We're about halfway through the season and I'm pretty happy about where we are right now," said coach Rob Vigeant, whose squad spent school vacation week posting key victories over Wachusett, Algonquin and Shrewsbury. "One of the goals we had heading into this past week was playing better team defense and we were able to do that."

Vigeant said the Pioneers have also effectively transitioned the ball through the midfield, scoring 16, 8 and 17 goals in their last three games, with eight coming against previously unbeaten Algonquin.

Even more impressive is that St. John's held the Tomahawks to just two goals.

The veteran leadership of senior co-captains Alex Papoojian and Andrew Dugan powers the defense.

"Both have played on varsity since freshman year," Vigeant said. "They've developed into tremendous players and their leadership is key."

The news is also encouraging in net, where the Pioneers have held opponents to single-digit scoring with primary goalies sophomore Dan Harvey and junior Pat Manning.

Even with the defense and goaltending solid, and the offense doing its part behind senior attacker Colin O'Rourke, improvements can still be made.

"Improve on game management," Vigeant said. "We can't be forcing the ball and need to have better decision-making."

One thing's for certain, it won't get any easier for the Pioneers, who maintain a challenging schedule that includes the likes of Eastern Mass. powers St. John's Prep and Xaverian, as well as defending state champ Longmeadow.

Throw in a tilt with Pinkerton Academy in New Hampshire and nobody can accuse the Pioneers of padding their schedule.

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