— Shawn Sailer (@ShawnSailer) May 3, 2019
FAIRFIELD — Standing on Tetreau/Davis Field after his Fairfield Warde team finally beat Fairfield Ludlowe in FCIAC boys lacrosse, 12-10, senior defender Charlie Richard had a few other scores in mind. He could rattle them right off.
Freshman year, when Ludlowe pounded the Mustangs 15-2. Sophomore year, when Ludlowe won a 5-3 tight one. Last year, the two one-goal losses, one of them in the qualifying round of the state tournament.
“You don’t know how much this means to me,” Richard said.
“Finally got it. I’m so happy. I’m a senior, I’ve been working with these guys, it’s been a close game almost every time. I’m so thankful we got it.”
Warde won the Sticks For Soldiers Cup for the first time; the trophy was added to the crosstown rivalry in 2015.
It had to come from behind to do it, trailing by three twice in the first half before taking the lead for good at 10-9. Warde outscored the Falcons 6-2 in the second half.
Here's a 30 second sequence that sealed the Warde victory last night. Big check by Sr. Capt. C. Richard, followed by a great save from Jr. C. Gonzalez, clear from Sr. Capt. C. Hessel and brilliant finish by Jr. B. Epstein. #fpsct @WardeStampede @FwhsAD pic.twitter.com/8cVSFs0bPr
— Fairfield Warde Boys Lacrosse (@WardeLax) May 3, 2019
“We just started shutting them down playing good one-on-one defense,” Richard said. “We got our shorties (short-stick midfielders) on a couple of their best players. We just played good overall team defense. It wasn’t one person.”
Well, to single out one, junior goalie Chris Gonzalez shone for the Mustangs, who clinched a state-tournament spot (7-5, 4-5). He made 12 saves, a couple of them point-blank, and the Falcons (5-4, 1-3) scored a couple of goals on scrambles after he’d made the first stop.
“He stood on his head. Chris, I’ve known Chris a lot of years from camps and all kinds of clinics and stuff,” Ludlowe coach Chris Parisi said. “He’s been working on his game a long time. Tonight was certainly a high-water mark.
“We’ve seen him all year. He’s played great against so many other teams. He made some great saves in tight that usually we cash in. That was a huge difference.”
Blake Epstein paced the Warde offense with three goals and two assists. His first goal tied it at 8, the first time the game was even since 2-2. His second put the Mustangs ahead for good. His third gave them a 12-9 lead.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Chris Gonzalez made 12 saves from all over the place.
“It started with Gonzo and the six guys in front of him,” Warde coach Tom Cunningham said. “Each of the defenders who stepped on the field did what we told them to do, and they had a great defensive stand in the second half.”
Aidan Wykoff, who set the Ludlowe all-time points record earlier in the week, took over the program’s top spot in goals Thursday. Nate Ryan had held both marks, 139 points and 102 goals.
BETTER ALL THE TIME
The Mustangs’ consistency is their most-improved facet since the season began, Cunningham said.
“Our program’s getting to the point where were playing more consistent day-in, day-out. We’re getting the talent into the school. Our boys play with heart. They play for each other. We want everybody all-in, and the boys are buying into that, and it’s what’s pushing us to this point.”
STICKS FOR SOLDIERS
Sticks For Soldiers, held in Fairfield every November since 2006, brings lacrosse players together to raise money and awareness for wounded veterans.
“(Thursday’s game) means more in terms of the overall meaning of the cause, and Warde and Ludlowe have always been partners in that. I tip my hat to Coach Cunningham and his seniors,” Parisi said.
“It’s a larger than life experience, for sure.”
“I think we have the potential to go far in the FCIAC and in states. I think we should be good and set for the postseason. I mean, things come and go, but I’m looking forward to the postseason, making a run.” —Warde defender Charlie Richard