St. Joseph boys lacrosse coach Brendan Talbot knew his house could be sports-divided at some point, but he didn’t expect it to come quite so soon with his kids in fifth and third grade.
His Cadets will visit New Fairfield on Wednesday afternoon in the Class S tournament’s first round, a championship-caliber game. He teaches in New Fairfield. His daughter plays in the town youth program with the daughter of New Fairfield boys lacrosse coach Marty Morgan.
The two coach their daughters’ team together, not the first time Talbot has been at Morgan’s side.
“He coaches them up, and I’ve just been the assistant coach. It’s nice to show up, shag balls, maybe roll some balls out,” Talbot said.
St. Joseph was Class S champion in 2018 and 2019. New Fairfield was Class M champ in 2018 and 2019 as well. (Talbot said he, like lots of state lacrosse fans, would’ve plunked down 10 bucks to see those Rebels play Darien.)
After the 2020 season was canceled, enrollment shifts moved the Rebels to Class S this season. So this would’ve been a hotly anticipated game whenever it happened. Fate, and the CIAC’s strict seeding by regular-season record for lacrosse, put it early.
“His wife is already losing sleep that we have to play each other. I said don’t worry, everything’s good. It’ll be a great game,” Morgan said.
“We may yell for 48 minutes at each other, then after, it’s all good. We’ve been doing it a long time. Whistle blows, it’s all about your team.”
Connections from his college career at Quinnipiac helped Talbot land a teaching job in New Fairfield about 15 years ago, and he joined Morgan’s staff. He had stops at Western Connecticut and New Milford before taking over the Cadets.
Their relationship, Talbot joked, “has been a lot better when (New Fairfield) wasn’t Class S.” He said he and Morgan would often be sounding boards for each other about teams they’d seen or upcoming opponents.
Their daughters are teammates on New Fairfield’s sixth-grade girls team. Cara Talbot and Brady Morgan are often left to hang around and play some one-on-one while their dads talk shop after practice, Brendan Talbot said.
“He gets on them like he gets on the boys,” Talbot said; Morgan coaches the boys at a volume that drops first-time visiting fans’ jaws. “It’s not like a gym class. They get coached up, and that’s what I want for my daughter. I know she’s in good hands.”
He saw this year’s Rebels boys team play Newtown in the SWC tournament and watched some film. “They’re a Marty Morgan team,” he said. “They play great team defense. (Nate) Alviti I think is one of the best players in the state. Matt Constantinides is a kid who just doesn’t come off the field.”
Morgan watched St. Joseph against No. 5 Wilton and came away impressed.
“Any given day, injuries, every day, you don’t know, who’s hurt, who’s playing, who’s not,” Morgan said. “It’s going to be a dogfight no matter what. We’re fortunate enough at least to have a home game, and that’s exciting.”
St. Joseph, 8-8 after beating Stonington on Friday in the qualifying round, was seeded 17th based on its 7-8 regular-season record. New Fairfield (17-0) is the unbeaten top seed, ranked eighth in the last GameTimeCT Top 10 poll.
The coaches saw the disappointing seeding coming for a while. It’s not uncommon; Somers and St. Joseph were probably the best two teams in Class S two years ago, and they met in the quarters.
Darien coach Jeff Brameier noted the St. Joseph-New Fairfield matchup on Friday while commenting on an unbalanced Class L bracket. What’s the answer to these unfortunate situations? “A seeding committee, or power rankings, strength of schedule,” Brameier said; the FCIAC has its coaches vote on seeding after a power-points system determines eight qualifiers.
That’s not here for the CIAC tournament yet.
“That stinks the way it plays out. I really feel the two best teams in Class S (are) playing in the first round,” Morgan said. “I wish it wasn’t that way. It’s a shame. I think whoever wins that game has the best shot at winning a state championship. We’re going to be working our butt off .”
And up in the stands, Talbot said he told his kids to root for whoever they want.
“They’ve got pride in New Fairfield,” he said, “but they look at Dad over there. My daughter’s very in the middle. My son will probably end up rooting for New Fairfield; that sounds like his move.”