'He's smiling right now': Scituate lax star dedicates his OT playoff goal to late father

BRIDGEWATER -- Willy Robinson was alone for a few seconds in his joyous run toward midfield Tuesday night. Eventually, though, his Scituate High boys lacrosse teammates caught up to him and he was embraced on all sides.

It wasn't the first group hug the junior midfielder has gotten from his buddies in the last week.

The Sailors have been a second family for Robinson after his actual family was dealt a heartbreaking blow. Robinson's father, William, an assistant coach on the team, passed away unexpectedly on June 6 at age 50. Robinson's teammates always have had his back, but lately even more so.

"We've been a community all year," junior attack Owen Hofford said. "We've been a really close-knit team. I think that loss brought us together even more. We have to be there for him."

Robinson, to his credit, has been there for the Sailors, too. He scored five goals in a Division 3 quarterfinal win over Nashoba the day after his father died. On Tuesday he played the hero again, scoring his sixth goal of the game on the first possession of overtime to give Scituate a emotionally exhausting 12-11 walk-off win over Falmouth in the semifinals.

"He's Superman," coach Mark Puzzangara said. "We're doing everything we can to try to win it for him and win it for his dad."

Hofford added a hat trick for No. 2 Scituate (19-5), which will play No. 1 Medfield (19-3) in Friday's state final (details TBA). It will be the Sailors' first title shot since the 2009 team beat Dover-Sherborn, 8-7, in OT to claim the East Div. 3 crown under the old playoff system.

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That the Sailors got there with a Robinson OT goal felt like something out of a Hollywood script.

"Words really don't describe it," Puzzangara said. "Unbelievable. I don't think you could have had a better ending to a game like that. The emotion is unbelievable."

Willy Robinson of Scituate waves to friends and family after scoring the game winning goal in OT over Falmouth on Wednesday. June 11, 2024.
Willy Robinson of Scituate waves to friends and family after scoring the game winning goal in OT over Falmouth on Wednesday. June 11, 2024.

Robinson said being back with the Sailors has helped immensely in dealing with his grief. "It feels like a little bit of normalcy" he said of playing lacrosse. "Lot of craziness going on, but when I'm on the field, everything washes away and I just get to play."

Robinson has been the Sailors' main weapon on offense -- he's up to 91 goals on the season and has 216 for his career. So if you figured he would find a way to make a difference in OT, you weren't alone.

Said Hofford: "I had a feeling that he was going to get it done for us."

Robinson himself had the same feeling. "As my dad always used to say, in those clutch moments he felt something and knew I would do it," Robinson said. "In those moments I feel I've got it. It's one of my things."

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Scituate has dealt with tragedy all season. Back in April, assistant coach Harold Gerbis, a former player, also passed away unexpectedly at age 31. Puzzangara has been using the phrases "We have the Will" and "#DoitforGerb" on the team's social media accounts to salute his two former assistants.

"It's horrible," Hofford said. "But we're a really close team. We're able to get through these tough things together."

"This is what it's all about," Puzzangara agreed. "This team has been through hell and back. We're hurting; there's no question about it. And it's coming together like this, it's games like this, the community coming out, that helps ease that pain just a little bit."

Willy Robinson leaps for joy and is hugged by teammate Lydon O'Brien after Robinson scored the winning goal in to push Scituate past Falmouth in a 12-11 OT thriller on Wednesday, June 11, 2024.
Willy Robinson leaps for joy and is hugged by teammate Lydon O'Brien after Robinson scored the winning goal in to push Scituate past Falmouth in a 12-11 OT thriller on Wednesday, June 11, 2024.

Scituate's nerves were frayed all game as the night featured eight ties, five of them in the second half at 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10 and 11-11. No. 3 Falmouth (18-5) had the last possession of regulation and a chance to win it, but Scituate held strong defensively. On the opening draw of OT, Scituate's Cam Cerussi scooped up a loose ball to start the winning possession, which ended with Robinson, an Army commit, spinning away from a defender on the left wing and bouncing a shot under the crossbar.

"You gotta keep your cool in those moments," Robinson said. "I'm lucky enough that me and this team have been through enough of those (close games). We felt well-prepared. We practiced that (scenario). When the moment came, I let 'er rip."

In honor of his dad, who steered him into lacrosse at a young age.

"He's always been in my corner," Robinson said. "Everything he's ever done has been for me. He dedicated (his life) to me and so it's the least I can do to dedicate the rest of my career to him. He's here with me. I couldn't do it without him.

"It's a beautiful thing (to score in OT to get to the final). It feels crazy. He got me here. He's smiling right now."

This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: With heavy heart, Will Robinson leads Scituate boys lax to finals

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