WEST HAVEN – West Haven boys lacrosse coach Patrick Reed had his concerns as the 2016 season approached.
Losing 93 of 113 goals scored from one year ago to either graduation or transfer, Reed and his team had to find ways to put some balls in the back of the net.
One game into the season, Reed can feel just a little bit better. With seven different players scoring and 11 players combining for points, West Haven rolled to a 10-5 victory over Bristol Central Saturday afternoon in the non-conference season opener for both teams at Ken Strong Stadium.
“I thought we did a great job today,” Reed said after his team improved to 1-0. “We had a pretty rough practice last week and we just said at some point, we had to start getting better. They all came out, believed, and gave 100 percent. We played hard today which I was very happy with. Bristol Central is every bit as good as us, but we just outhustled them and found a way to win the battles.”
Reed was looking forward to watching Joe Consorte, a transfer from Notre Dame-West Haven, take the field and the coach was not disappointed as the junior scored three goals and two assists, while fellow junior Justin Burbank scored twice and added a pair of assists.
While the West Haven offense was clicking, senior goalie Ryan Pickering made 15 saves, including a brilliant leg save off a rifle of a shot by Zacharie Bouchard with 8 minutes left in the third quarter and the Westies holding an 8-3 lead.
“They had scored and we were trying to get the momentum back,” Pickering said. “We needed something to get it back.”
Any concerns Reed had of the offense before the game quickly subsided as the Westies scored twice in the first 5:13 seconds of the game for a 2-0 advantage.
Burbank gave the Westies a 1-0 lead just 2:28 into the contest when he scored off an assist from Santo Barbagiovanni from 5 yards out. Just 2:45 later, the Westies increased the margin to a pair of goals.
Capitalizing on a solid defensive play by Matt Dowd, the Westies rushed up the field where Nick Massaro fed James McCarthy in front. McCarthy spun around and beat Bristol Central goalie John Duncan for a two-goal advantage.
“It is the first game of the season against a good opponent,” Bristol Central coach Andy Aros said after his team fell to 0-1. “We made some mistakes where we did not cover some guys down low. The season is still young.”
Consorte then took over the remainder of the opening quarter, scoring twice in the final 4:33. Consorte’s first goal as a Westie came after he took a pass from Burbank, went through the center of the field and bounced a shot past Duncan from 15 yards out.
Consorte’s second of the game was equally impressive as Burbank flipped a pass over to Consorte, who cut in, then fired another shot from 15 yards out for a 4-0 advantage with 22 seconds left in the opening quarter.
“This is a good start for us,” Consorte said. “It is a nice win in our first game. We worked as a team out there today. We worked hard and were able to find ways to score today.”
Consorte’s third consecutive goal just 2:25 into the second quarter gave the Westies a 5-0 lead, before the Rams finally got on the scoreboard. Nick Gagnon fed Bouchard, who circled around the goal and beat Pickering for the first of his three goals on the day with 8:12 left in the quarter to cut the deficit to 5-1.
With the Rams picking up the pace, Consorte and Burbank slowed them down. Taking a pass from Consorte, Burbank cut from the middle of the field to the right side and fired a shot to the top left corner for a 6-1 lead with 5:46 remaining in the first half.
“I am happy with the way we started the season,” Reed said. “There are still things we need to work on to get better at in order for us to make the tournament. I am so pleased with the effort we showed today. I am proud of all the guys and I am proud of the guys on defense and the job they did today.”
Goals by Bristol Central’s Dante Coco and West Haven’s Dan Samperi 1:20 apart sent the Westies to half with a 7-2 lead. Bouchard scored 20 seconds into the third to get the Rams within 7-3.
Any thoughts of a Bristol Central comeback quickly faded off the draw as Dowd went the distance to give the Westies an 8-3 lead just eight seconds later.
Pickering followed with the big leg save off the shot by Bouchard and Logan Cole scored from 10 yards out with 3:36 left in the third to put West Haven on top 9-3.
“Ryan may be the best goalie I have had here at West Haven,” Reed said of Pickering. “He comes up with some big saves in key moments. The bigger the moment, the better he does.”
The Rams got goals by Bouchard and Alexander Lape 1:02 apart less than two minutes into the fourth quarter to get within four goals, but Jordan Wetmore iced the win with an unassisted goal with 5:12 remaining.