The Westfield Blue Devils never trailed in their 11-6 Union County tournament semifinal victory over the Johnson Crusaders on Thursday afternoon.
The Blue Devils raced out to a 5-1 advantage in the first period and never wavered as they carried a 7-2 advantage into the intermission. Pat Dyer (3 goals, 2 assists) put away a pair of goals in the half. Paul Devita also picked up two first half goals on the way to a hat trick of his own.
Dyer led a Westfield attack that was able to rip off 17 first half shots with 11 coming in the game’s opening quarter. For the game, Westfield outshot Johnson 24-10. The Blue Devils were fueled by an aggressive yet disciplined attack as they possessed the ball for much of the contest and chose their spots to attack.
“I think as a group we played a great game,” said Dyer. “Both lines of forwards and both lines of middies.”
Westfield was aggressive in pushing the ball up the field from their own zone and was able to get the ball across midfield with little resistance from the Crusaders defense. The Blue Devils also did a great job of containing the Johnson offense as they only allowed 10 shots and applied pressure throughout.
“The defense did a great job of getting the ball out of the attack’s stick,” said Dyer. “The midfielders were also great taking care of the ball and getting it to our attack.”
Although it wasn’t their day, the host Johnson squad did not let Westfield leave with an easy victory, outscoring their opponent 5-3 in the second half, pulling to within four at 11-7 on Lance Pecina’s goal with just over two minutes left. Vin Manasia picked up two goals for Johnson, while Nick Mullery picked up a goal and an assist.
With the win the Blue Devils move on to the finals of the tournament where top-seeded Summit awaits them. The Hilltoppers have yet to drop a game during what has been the toughest schedule in the state. Summit’s stretch includes wins over three out-of-state opponents: St. Joseph’s Prep (PA), Cold Spring Harbor (NY) and Deerfield (CT).
“We know our coaches are going to prepare us well,” said Dyer. “We’re familiar with them and their players. We’ve got a lot of seniors, they’ve got a lot of seniors.”