FAIRFIELD — Both boys lacrosse teams on Tetreau-Davis Field had something to play for Wednesday evening. The hosts came away with it.
Fairfield Warde earned at least a .500 regular season for the third year in a row with a 15-4 win over Stratford in a chilly rain, heading to the postseason at 8-8.
“It’s definitely big. Getting states was a priority,” said senior attackman Ted Orben, who had a game-high six points.
“We kind of wanted to put it away, to go into states with a little momentum. We’ve got lot guys doing big things this year. We’re going into states with big hopes.”
A 12-11 overtime loss to St. Joseph on April 26 dropped the Mustangs to 3-7, a game after losing starting goalie Chris Gonzalez to injury.
They went 5-1 the rest of the way, an 18-6 loss to No. 2 New Canaan the only blemish.
“After losing our goalie at Trumbull, there was a little slouch there,” Orben said, “but Lucas (Oliveira), our goalie, is stepping up big.”
In the five wins, Warde outscored opponents 91-24. A 17-4 win over McMahon on Monday clinched their CIAC Class L tournament berth.
“The first half of the season, we struggled. We had some injuries. We played some really good teams,” Warde coach Tom Cunningham said.
“To finish at .500 after starting (3-7), our guys stepped up. Winning five of six, picking up their play, it means a lot to the program.”
The Red Devils finish 6-10. A win Wednesday would have put them into the Class M tournament, but they fell just short of the 40-percent threshold to qualify.
“All I wanted to do coming in here, being a first-year head coach, was to teach these guys how to play fundamentally, how to play with discipline and have fun doing it,” coach Brian Mayglothling said.
“For the most part, we accomplished a lot of that and set a tone for future years. There’s obviously a long way to go … but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
Stratford hung in early despite a big edge in shots for the Mustangs. Red Devils senior goalie Dan Cox made some big saves to keep it close awhile. Gavin Scofield’s man-down goal 1:16 into the second quarter cut the Mustangs’ lead to 4-2.
Warde scored the next four, two of them a man up, to take command. Blake Epstein finished with four goals, and Jack McKenna had four points.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Warde senior attackman Ted Orben had three goals and three assists, with five of those points in the first half.
Part of Warde’s tough start was facing most of its toughest FCIAC foes before the end of April; seven of its eight losses came against teams among the 15 receiving votes in this week’s GameTimeCT poll.
Still, Cunningham said the defense has become more aggressive, making stops. When they do, Orben sees an improved transition game.
“The other thing standing out lately is the play of our faceoff guys,” Cunningham said. “Matt Sullivan and Jack Murphy are doing a great job at the faceoff ‘X’, giving us some extra possessions.”
“I think for the most part just creating a culture where the kids come to work and want to learn. That’s the most important thing as a coach that I can ask for, that the kids want to learn, both individually and as a group. They’ve bought in. Next year, it won’t take 6-8 weeks to get to that spot.” — Stratford coach Brian Mayglothling, on where his team progressed the most
WARDE 15, STRATFORD 4
STRATFORD 1 2 0 1— 4
FAIRFIELD WARDE 3 5 5 2—15
Records: Stratford 6-10; Fairfield Warde 8-8. Scoring: S—Tyler Ciccia 1 goal, Gavin Scofield 1g, Randall Nightingale 1g, Brendan McMahon 1g, Ryan Brault 1 assist; FW—Ted Orben 3g, 3a, Blake Epstein 4g, Jack McKenna 2g, 2a, Jack Murphy 1g, 2a, Jack Curtis 1g, Sean Gavey 1g, Zach Corsi 1g, J.P. Sell 1g, Charlie Richard 1g, Sam Palmer 1a. Goalies: S—Dan Cox (14 saves); FW—Lucas Oliveira (4). Shots: S—14; FW—45.