BERLIN>> After just four years as a varsity program, the Berlin boys lacrosse team feels like it belongs.
And after a 17-4 win over Rockville in the semifinals of the CCC South tournament at Scalise Field on Tuesday, the Redcoats proved that they belong.
Four-year starter Cam Criniti led the way with five goals and three assists as Berlin advanced to the CCC South finals where it will play Rocky Hill on Thursday at Tolland High School at 4 p.m.
“One of the things that’s really changed this year and really changed our philosophy, instead of just settling for any shot, any opportunity, the guys really do look now for the best shot and that’s helped us tremendously,” Berlin coach Scott Rossi said.
The Redcoats shot 41 percent on Tuesday (17-41) and held Rockville to 21 percent shooting (4-19).
“The defense is confident, they move their feet well,” Rossi said. “Our goalie, Casey St. Peter (five saves) has been tremendous. Everything’s clicking this year.”
Berlin controlled the face-offs, too.
Kyle Mahoney won 88 percent at midfield and it seemed like every possession resulted in a Redcoats goal.
“They have a great face-off guy,” Rockville coach Paul Burton said. “He wins a lot of the face-offs and obviously you win the face-off, you get an automatic offensive possession right there and they take advantage of it. I think that was the different in the first game (Berlin won 15-0) and the difference in the second game here.”
Rockville scored the first goal of the game, Greg St. Germain a minute and a half in, but from there on out it was all Berlin.
Richard Cassineri, Geoff Main and Criniti each scored twice in the first quarter to jump out to a 6-1 lead.
The Rams then scored the first goal of the second, but the Redcoats added six more including a long run from Main. Ben Cichowski caught the Rockville goalie, Matt McMahon out of position to put in his only goal of the game.
“They’re very skilled,” Burton said. “They move the ball effectively when they get into a settled offense. I thought they really couldn’t play much better.”
Garrett Guite completed his hat trick with a goal at one second left in the third and added one more in the fourth.
Berlin is finishing up its fourth varsity season with a group of 14 seniors that have been playing with each other since fourth and fifth grade that feel like they have something to prove every time they step on the field.
The Redcoats will face Rocky Hill, another upstart from the South Division for the first conference championship in either school’s history.
“The CCC South has younger programs in it and that gives us the opportunity to compete and play hard,” Rossi said.
Berlin beat Rocky Hill 17-3 on May 22 to clinch the top seed in the conference tournament.
“They’re happy with the conference wins, they’re happy with the share of the conference championship, but they know that there’s bigger fish out there,” Rossi said. “They really want to see how they measure up with some of the other teams in the state.”
Rockville: 1 1 1 1 – 4
Berlin: 6 6 4 1 – 17
(at Scalise Field)
Goals: (R) – Andrew Simard (2), Greg St. Germain, Shaun Monaghan, Denis Shannon; (B) – Cam Criniti (5), Geoff Main (4), Garrett Guite (4), Rich Cassineri (3), Ben Cichowski.
Assists: (R) – Denis Shannon; (B) – Cam Criniti (3), Ryan Stefens (2), Geoff Main (2), Will Salwocki, Kevin Rulka.
Saves: (R) – Matt McMahon (19), Colin Neal (4); (B) – Casey St. Peter (5).
Face-offs won: Rockville 3; Berlin 21.
Records: Rockville 7-10; Berlin 14-3.
CCC Boys Lacrosse Tournament
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 — Semi-finals
Farmington 10, Northwest Catholic 6
East Catholic 12, South Windsor 9
Berlin 17, Rockville 4
Rocky Hill 13, Tolland 9
Glastonbury 17, Hall 6
Simsbury 15, Conard 8
Thursday, May 28, 2015 — Finals
North — No. 2 East Catholic vs. No. 1 Farmington (at Farmington High School, 5 p.m.)
South — No. 2 Rocky Hill vs. No. 1 Berlin (at Tolland High School, 4 p.m.)
West — No. 2 Simsbury vs. No. 1 Glastonbury (at Conard High School, 6 p.m.)