FAIRFIELD — New Canaan had just gone up by two for the first time at Rafferty Stadium in the third quarter Saturday, on the way to a 15-12 win over Fairfield Prep in one of the best regular-season boys lacrosse matchups on the schedule.
Justin Wietfeldt won a faceoff for the Rams. Sean Fox forced a turnover for Fairfield Prep. The ball went back and forth between the teams. Zach LaPolice finally picked it up for the Rams and cleared it. And the New Canaan bench erupted as if it’d won the game right there, not just led 11-9 midway through the third quarter.
“That’s a (Prep) team, we know those guys personally. A lot of great kids on that team, great people,” New Canaan senior midfielder Quintin O’Connell said.
“But, you know, when you’re playing guys that you know, you’re playing with a little more oomph, a little more motivation. I think you saw that. Guys making big plays meant a little more against such a good team like this, with guys that we know.”
The No. 4 Rams (9-4, but 9-0 against CIAC teams) trailed 5-1 after the first quarter, turned the ball over too much and weren’t as dominant as usual on faceoffs, with the No. 3 Jesuits’ Max McGillicuddy holding his own against New Canaan’s Wietfeldt and Tim Norton.
“We just came out a little slow. It was a really hot day. We came off the bus, we just weren’t into it. We started to click after the second half. We got some motivational words from our coaches,” said New Canaan senior attackman Teddy Manges, who scored four goals.
“We realized we had to bring it back. Our potential is higher than we were playing to. In order to be who we want to be this season, we had to put in the work, and we had to share the ball and be unselfish.”
It all turned around. In the second and third quarters, the Rams had a 31-9 shots edge over Fairfield Prep (7-3, 7-1 in-state), and they outscored the Jesuits 11-4.
“It just comes down to possessions. I don’t think it’s any secret with all these games you play, if you have the ball enough, you can score,” Jesuits coach Graham Niemi said.
“Possessions in the second half had to be three-to-one them, maybe four-to-one. We didn’t get enough stops on defense. And when you have the ball … you can’t have lost possessions on offense, empty possessions. We had a couple of those in the second half.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Teddy Manges scored four second-half goals for the Rams.
“Teddy Manges has been an incredible leader this year,” Rams coach Chip Buzzeo said. “A lot of our seniors have, but he’s playing the best lacrosse I’ve seen him play. I’m really happy for him. He played out of his mind.”
NOT TO LOOK AHEAD…
After visiting Westhill on Thursday, New Canaan welcomes No. 1 Darien to Dunning Stadium on May 11 at 3 p.m.
“We respect them a lot,” Manges said, “but we’re going to take it to them. We don’t fear them.”
Buzzeo said New Canaan hopes to have some of its banged-up players back this week.
“You have so many guys who stepped up in their absence, how do we continue to play at the same level with new people being inserted?” the coach said.
“It’s a good problem for me to have, but it’s definitely going to be difficult to manage, a bit. Trust me, we want everyone back that we can. We’ll just get a deeper team.”
“We came out slow. You play a good team, you can’t do that. Coming out slow, a great team’s going to punch you in the mouth. We regrouped (at the) start of the second quarter, said that’s not happening. We’re going to ride this storm and try to show them what New Canaan lacrosse is about.” —Rams midfielder Quintin O’Connell