Record-breaking Cronin leads Marblehead to playoff win

Connor Cronin battles against two Milton Wildcats. Photo by Emma Fringuelli

The No. 7 Marblehead lacrosse team defeated No. 23 Milton 16-8 to advance to the Elite 8 in Division 2. The win moves the Magicians to an incredible 20-0 on the year, and on the verge of the Final Four.

Not only was there cause to celebrate a postseason win, but Northeastern Conference Player of the Year Connor Cronin snatched his 112th point of the season for a school record.

“Connor is a workhorse. He’s the director on the field,” Marblehead coach John Wilkens said. “He shows a lot of patience. He’s a very smart kid on the field and he sees a lot of things out there.”

The Magicians got out to a quick start, scoring three goals within the first three-and-a-half minutes. The first two were scored by Gio Garibotto and assisted by Cronin, while the third goal was unassisted as Baxter Jennings won the faceoff before taking it himself.

“They came out with that little oomph that you need,” Wilkens said. “I think they were very dialed in in warmups. This whole week has been great.”

The Magicians continued to cruise in the first half, ending it with a 9-0 lead.

However, they started to play the scoreboard, not the game. Milton scored four straight goals, leading to a Wilkens timeout as his team’s 9-0 lead was cut to 9-4.

“Second half, we came out flat. I think we got a little bit too overconfident,” Wilkens said. “It was a good learning moment for them.”

When asked how Milton got back into it, Wilkens talked about lacrosse being a “momentum game.”

“Lacrosse is a game of runs and momentum. They scored a couple goals and got the momentum back. Luckily, we didn’t panic and we settled down,” Wilkens said. “We just had to calm down. I think the defense pushed a little bit. We got away from what we were doing in the first half.”

The Magicians popped back up thanks to Jennings (6 goals), who tucked back-to-back goals to seize back the momentum (12-5).

“He had a good game today. Usually, he can get us a couple of goals a game, but to get six is really good,” Wilkens said. “He’s a workhorse. He had a few nice assists there, too.”

When Marblehead got its momentum back, Wilkens pointed to winning faceoffs.

“We’ve got three guys that can go. Not a lot of teams can do that. We’re very fortunate,” Wilkens said. “If Baxter is having a bad time, we can put in Toby Grenier who’s a freshman or we got Connor Murnane, a senior. They both work very hard after practice.”

Marblehead’s goalie Finn Maniaci submitted a strong performance. Despite some crucial saves, the ever-so-humble netminder credited his defenders.

“In the first quarter, I only had to make one or two saves because they did a great job forcing them to turn it over,” Maniaci said.