DERRY — Brian O’Reilly has taught a lot of athletes many skills over his decades coaching at Pinkerton Academy. But he didn’t teach Gennaro Marra how to win faceoffs on the lacrosse field.
“He taught himself,” said O’Reilly after Saturday’s 21-8 Astros victory over rival Londonderry in a Division I quarterfinal on the new turf at Memorial Field.
“There are some things we don’t teach, and we don’t teach faceoffs,” said O’Reilly. “Kids teach themselves, kids from the past teach the new kids ... and it just keeps going down the line.”
Pinkerton’s faceoff protocol seems to be working. Marra, a three-sport senior captain, continued his season-long dominance on draws, on Saturday winning 23 of 27 in three-plus quarters of work.
The faceoff wins, as they often do in lacrosse, directly resulted in goals. Saturday, the Astros scored deliberately, after sustained pressure, but even more impressive were their quick strikes. Four times, they struck within eight seconds of a draw win by Marra, a right-hander.
“Possession time and faceoffs,” said Londonderry coach Roger Sampson, summing up Pinkerton’s keys to victory. “Marra’s a stud. The best in the state.”
Of course, faceoffs don’t matter much if you don’t have the scorers to convert opportunities, and the Astros have that, too. Top guns on Saturday were Ryan Auger and Owen McCormack, with five goals each, and Hunter Drouin (four goals), Mason Drouin (three goals) and Connor McCormack (three goals). Pinkerton led all the way, and Mason Drouin’s goal at 8:36 of the third quarter gave the Astros a 19-7 lead and prompted running time for the remainder of the game.
Pinkerton, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, advanced to Tuesday’s semifinal against No. 3 seed Exeter at the Blue Hawks’ Bill Ball Stadium.
Londonderry, seeded seventh, had its moments. The Lancers pulled to within 10-5 at 8:35 of the second quarter on the second of two quick Zach Fawcett goals.
“Then Gennaro took over and the next thing I knew it was 14-5,” said O’Reilly.
Anthony Federico led Londonderry with a hat trick. Fawcett and Cole Keegan scored two each for the Lancers, and Blake Melnik scored Londonderry’s final goal.