FAIRFIELD >> Staples’ boys lacrosse team snapped a 2-2 tie and scored a trio of goals in a span of 3:02 early in the third quarter, added another tally late in the quarter, and held off host Fairfield Ludlowe for a 6-4 Class L state tournament first-round win, on Wednesday.
“That was the big difference in the game,” Staples Coach Paul McNulty said of his team’s three-goal burst, which helped propel the Wreckers into the quarterfinal round for a visit to No. 2 Glastonbury on Saturday, June 6, beginning at 3 pm.
Matt Johnson gave the Wreckers a 3-2 lead with 9:29 to play in the third quarter; and Ross Goldberg netted a pair of shots with 7:50 and 6:27 to go in the stanza. Goldberg’s second goal came moments after the Staples defense forced a turnover deep in its own end.
After killing off a man-down situation, the Wreckers added to their lead. Tanner Wood made it 6-2 with 1:54 left in the third. Staples did its third-quarter, game-deciding damage in transition. When the Wreckers set up in Ludlowe’s end, chance proved to be fruitless thanks to the efforts of the Ludlowe defense and goaltender Carter Leibrock who made nine saves. His counterpart, Peter Burger, also made nine stops.
Ludlowe showed plenty of fight in the fourth quarter, and goals by Trevor Demilt and Lorin Tobey, the latter net-finder coming with 4:01 to play, gave the home team a chance.
Staples killed off most of the remainder of the time by playing keep-away. The Wreckers did a great job of possession the ball throughout the evening thanks to the faceoff prowess of Ben Schwaeber, who won 13 of 14 draws.
“That’s why we won the game – because we had all those extra chances,” McNaulty said.
The Staples coach knew his team was gambling by running out time, and noted that the Falcons capitalized on a pair of turnovers in the final quarter, but had confidence in his players to sew up the win.
“It’s a risk but you have to keep the ball,” McNulty said.
In the first half, Isaac Paparo and Evan Zinn scored for the Wreckers, and Tobey and Matthew Doyle had goals for Ludlowe.
Ludlowe prevailed 7-6 in overtime during a regular-season battle between the FCIAC rivals.
“They’re two very evenly-matched teams. The two games were decided by only one goal when it comes down to it,” Ludlowe Coach Chris Parisi said.
The Ludlowe coach was thrilled with his team’s season, during which the Falcons went 13-3 and recorded the most wins in the program’s history. Parisi noted that his team had a tough draw, having to face a familiar conference foe in the first round. He commended the efforts of his players, led by a large group of seniors – 17 of them to be exact.
“I think we laid it all out on the field. We played with our hearts out there,” Parisi said. “We left it all out on the field.”