On Monday, Needham celebrated Seniors Night with an important non-conference victory, as the Rockets beat the Foxborough Warriors, 11-6.
“For those guys, they’re seeing the [light at the end of the tunnel],” Needham head coach Dave Wainwright said after his team's 13th win. “That’s the best way to describe it.”
Needham’s senior class was honored prior to the start of the game, as parents, friends and peers took a moment to reflect upon their achievements over the past four years.
“It’s definitely emotional for [all the seniors],” Needham’s Mark Riley said. “[It’s] their last home game being played [at ], but for them it’s definitely a good way to go out [with] a nice win.”
The Rockets began the first quarter firing multiple shots at the Warriors goalie, Greg Stamhtov, eventually netting their first goal at 3:19 when Niko Panepinto connected with Will Stenberg for the first point of the game. Needham then tacked on three more goals during the second quarter, as Panepinto and Stenberg scored to give the Rockets a 4-0 advantage at halftime.
“They’re actually starting to click,” Wainwright said. “When they first started at the beginning of the season they looked like two guys playing attack, one doing one thing, one doing the other—they were doing independent play next to each other, [but] now they’re playing together.”
Foxborough struggled throughout the first half, as their offense attempted numerous shots outside the crease and never really challenged Needham goaltender Lucas Davis until the third quarter, when Connor Whalen scored the Warriors' first goal at 10:13.
The Warriors offense was forced to then watch Mark Riley, JP McHale, Davis Cutter, Cam O’Leary, Panepinto and Stenberg all score goals and give Needham a comfortable, 10-1 lead heading into the final quarter.
“They were faster than us, and we paid the price for it,” Foxborough head coach Matt Noone said. “Their transition was bam-bam, they’re so much quicker, their step was quick, their slides were in your face a lot quicker than we slide, and we need to see that more. Framingham was the same way.”
During the final 12 minutes, Needham’s offense stalled, as Foxborough ramped up their pressure, both on offense and defense, scoring five more goals before the final whistle sounded. Billy Roberts, James Stather and Whalen scored, but it wasn’t enough, as Foxborough fell victim to another Bay State Conference team.
“I want to come up North as much as we can [because] that’s where the quality teams are at right now. Not that the Hockomock isn’t a quality league, but they have speed up here, they’ve been around a lot longer than we have, and anytime you can play a team like this, it’s a great learning experience,” Noone said.
“At the beginning of the game it was sort of like a prize fight, two guys kind of feeling themselves out,” Wainwright said.
Needham will return to Memorial Field for their final regular season home game against Milton on Tuesday, before finishing out their regular season at Newton North and Norwood. But according to Wainwright, his squad is focused and ready to march into the MIAA tournament prepared.
“All I have to say [to keep the squad focused] is 'tournament,'” Wainwright said. “They know that they’ve earned a second season”