With two games left in what has become a nice season in a series of nice seasons for Branford, it seemed like the time to ask Jim May what stood out about this group of Hornets.
“We have Robbie Lionetti,” May said, and, yeah, that’s not a bad start whatsoever. “He has done a lot for the program.”
Though May didn’t have the numbers tallied firmly, he’s confident that Lionetti, bound for the Air Force Academy, has become the program’s all-time leading scorer, passing current assistant coach Joe O’Keefe.
The Hornets have also become deeper in goal, boasting three goalies who can play, the coach said, and that combination has helped them to a 10-4 season with two regular-season games and two postseason tournaments remaining.
“Obviously you can’t win with just two guys,” May said. “We’ve played really well as a team.”
They do the small things well, May said, which he credits to the players’ coachability and the work of assistants O’Keefe and Connecticut Hall of Famer Frank Barron.
Having several players who won SCC/SWC Division II and CIAC Division II hockey championships, Lionetti among them, boosts their confidence and helps produce a winning attitude.
Like the hockey team, the lacrosse Hornets lost their first game, 10-6 to Masuk, and got a bit of a wake-up call. They have won six in a row going into Wednesday’s game against Amity.
“Now we’re in the swing of things,” May said. “It’s the first time we’ve made the SCC playoffs in a while. That’s a big thing for the guys. We made states. … It’s not uncommon, but at the same time, it’s a huge goal for us as a group.”
The question wasn’t meant as a laugh line, especially after a 10-7 loss to Ridgefield, but it did get a good chuckle out of first-year Wilton coach Steve Pearsall last week: Have you guys ever been fully healthy?
“That’s a good question,” Pearsall said. “I can’t really talk on any particular injury, but you’re right, we’ve experienced — like other teams as well — but we’ve missed some key players.”
Standout defenders Ryan Schriber and Tyler Previte both missed time earlier this season. Thursday, the Warriors were without top attackman Dean DiNanno.
“We don’t really know (DiNanno’s) return,” Pearsall said. From sideline appearances, it didn’t look like a long-term thing.
And still, the Warriors are 7-8 (with four losses by two goals or fewer), will make the FCIAC tournament, are ranked ninth in this week’s GameTimeCT poll, and had a chance Tuesday night to get to .500 in the regular-season finale at Norwalk.
How that FCIAC tournament shakes down was still to be determined on Tuesday afternoon. There was a chance for a tiebreaker mess in the bottom half of the eight-team field, possibly even for the last spot.
He became Newtown’s all-time assist leader earlier this season, and on Saturday, Nighthawks midfielder Tucker Garrity took over the school’s all-time scoring lead. The mark had belonged to Casey Kirch, at Newtown through 2003, with 312 points. Garrity finished the 11-8 win over Bronxville, N.Y., with 317.
Before Berlin’s visit to Rocky Hill on Friday at 5:45 p.m., the teams plan a Military Appreciation Night. Proceeds from the gate will go to the Wounded Warrior Project, Terriers coach Michael Albano said.
The SWC begins the postseason Thursday night with an eight-team field. The other leagues around the state will follow over the coming days.
The CIAC tournament follows. Unofficially, it looked going into Tuesday that 20 teams had qualified for the Class L tournament, 18 in Class M and 19 in Class S. Another 18 teams across the board still had a mathematical chance at reaching .400 and qualifying.