TRUMBULL — Nothing was going in. New Canaan kept firing, kept looking for good looks at the St. Joseph net, and Kyle Burbank kept stopping them to keep the FCIAC boys lacrosse game close Thursday.
Then Chris Canet found a hole up high with 56.5 seconds left in the first half, and the Rams’ offense got clicking. They scored two more before halftime and six in the third quarter, beating the Cadets 14-5 at St. Joseph.
“Their goalie was playing really well,” said Rams senior midfielder Zach Miller, victimized by Burbank a few times before he got one by him in the fourth quarter.
“Every time we went down low, he made the save. It was about changing the plan, shooting high.”
Communication had been lacking early but improved, Miller said.
“We kind of got a little momentum,” Miller said.
New Canaan, No. 4 in the GameTimeCT poll, improved to 11-4 overall, 9-1 in the FCIAC, with one game to go.
The Cadets (8-4, 7-4) had a long early possession, got on the board in the last minute of the first quarter and took a 3-2 lead with 2:02 left in the first half. Matt Labash gave it to them, scoring while taking a hit at the left side of the net.
Meanwhile, Burbank made seven of his 20 saves in the second quarter.
“Kyle Burbank has been one of our candidates for MVP this year,” St. Joseph coach Brendan Talbot said. “Playing a good team like New Canaan, having four or five (goals) at halftime (was a positive). They’re a good, talented team.”
The Rams got to five with three quick ones.
“Their goalie played really well,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “I thought their (defense) played well, too. They forced some pretty bad-angle shots.”
The start of the third quarter went back and forth, but New Canaan got the last four of the quarter to make it 11-5 after three.
Possession time wore down the Cadets a bit, too, as the afternoon wore on. Even without the injured Nick Crovatto at the X, New Canaan had Justin Wietfeldt and Tim Norton winning draws.
“We knew if we lost faceoffs we’d have to play defense, win some battles,” Talbot said. “We did that in the first half. The second, we played a lot of D. They ran a lot of numbers at us.”
Talbot said they focused on Quintin O’Connell, the Rams’ standout junior midfielder, to make the others step up.
They held O’Connell to one goal, but seven others did step up to score, led by Owen Shin’s three. And that one O’Connell goal happened to give the Rams the lead for good.
Chris Canet, Quintin O’Connell and Will Rechtermann scored in the last minute of the first half to turn a 3-2 New Canaan deficit into a 5-3 halftime lead.
The Rams started the game without five starters. Buzzeo said he expects they’ll all be ready to go for the postseason, and if they’ve had to be without them, he’s been glad to get some younger players experience.
Goalie Carl Mazabras was just cleared to return from injury, but he was pressed into duty Thursday when Bennett Ong went down with a third-quarter injury; Ong left on crutches later.
New Canaan hosts Trumbull on Tuesday in the regular-season finale for both. St. Joseph has three non-league games at home, Waterford on Saturday, Immaculata (N.J.) on Monday and Suffield on Wednesday.
“I feel like we’re getting better and better every day. It’s kind of culminating in us being in a good place going into the playoffs.” —New Canaan senior Zach Miller
NEW CANAAN 14, ST. JOSEPH 5
NEW CANAAN2 3 6 3—14
ST. JOSEPH1 2 2 0— 5
Records: New Canaan 11-4, 9-1 FCIAC; St. Joseph 8-4, 7-4. Scoring: NC—Owen Shin 3 goals, 1 assist, Chris Canet 2g, Mac Deane 2g, Liam Griffiths 2g, Teddy Manges 2g, Quintin O’Connell 1g, Will Rechtermann 1g, Zach Miller 1g; SJ—Matt Labash 3g, Jared Mallozzi 1g, 2a, Preston Kral 1g, Harrison Yoguez 1a. Goalies: NC—Bennett Ong (5 saves), Carl Mazabras (2); SJ—Kyle Burbank (20). Shots: NC—56; SJ—16.