This one is going to be tough.
Opponents become more talented and match-ups become more difficult as a team progresses through the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional State Tournament. After knocking off Silver Lake Regional, 6-2, and Medway, 4-2, the Medfield High School boys' hockey team faces its greatest challenge of the season: Abington- East Bridgewater.
(10) Medfield (14-5-3) vs. (2) Abington (16-2-3) Gallo Arena, Bourne/Buzzards Bay, 5:30 p.m. MIAA Division 3 South Sectional State Tournament, Quarterfinals
After stumbling a bit down the stretch, the Warriors have turned in back-to-back strong efforts in the MIAA Division 3 South Sectional boys' hockey state tournament. Medfield defeated the 14th seeded Lakers of Silver Lake Regional, 6-2 in the preliminary round on Feb. 28 and knocked off rival Medway, the bracket's seventh seed, 4-2 on March 3. Those victories have punched the Warriors' ticket to the MIAA D3 South Sectional quarterfinals but there is a catch. Medfield must face the No. 2 seed in the tourney, hockey powerhouse, Abington-East Bridgewater.
It can be argued that Medfield has not faced a team as talented as Abington-East Bridgewater to this point of the season. TVL foe and champion Westwood is in the conversation and Medfield has hung around with the Wolverines in two losses this season but Abington-East Bridgewater brings as an explosive an offense as you will see in boys' high school hockey. Here's a breakdown of each team:
Medfield: Two state tournament games, two victories for the Warriors. Medfield's 4-2 win over Medway on March 3 was as good as victories come in the state tourney. The Warriors showed the ability to respond to adversity and come back from a game they were trailing and got another tremendous effort by goalie Connor Roddy in net. Medfield's offense, led by Jim Magrath, Ben Cox and Tyler Etzkorn – especially in the state tournament – has enough firepower to get the job done. The key to the Warriors game is capitalizing on their strength: Defense. The back line must be able to forecheck, stay on the puck and dig it out of the corners. That blue-collar defensive effort limits the opponent's chances of getting good scoring opportunities and against a team like Abington that is vital. When there is a defensive breakdown, Roddy more often than not can stand on his head and make the saves necessary to keep his Warriors in the game until they generate offense on the other side of the ice. But Roddy, like any goalie, cannot be asked to stand on his head for 45 minutes, which is why Mike Brown and John O'Driscoll will be called upon even more so than usual to lead the defensive effort. Medfield has scored 87 goals this year and given up 50. The offense and defense will be heavily tested this evening.
Abington-East Bridgewater: Looking at the numbers, the Green Wave has been scary good this season. Their goals for, goals against ratio is freakish: 129 goals for and just 44 against through 20 games. Abington-East Bridgewater comes in as the tourney's No. 2 seed and is the South Shore league champions, edging out Norwell by a game. After earning a preliminary round bye, Abington crushed Blue Hills, 10-3 in first round play, showing just how explosive the offense-defense combination can be when both are playing well and firing on all cylinders.
Prediction: The Warriors have the odds stacked against them in today's quarterfinal round as Abington-East Bridgewater has been nothing short of dominating this season. Medfield has the tendency to rise in big games: See the three times it beat Medway and the two times it played Westwood this season, hanging with the Wolverines until the third period in both games. It comes down to how well the Medfield defense can play and contain the scoring frenzy that is the Green Wave. It will be an entertaining game but in the end, Abington-East Bridgewater will prevail. Green Wave to advance.
Smith's state tournament prediction record: 3-2
Smith's regular season prediction record: 54-15