SUFFIELD – Falling behind really doesn’t rattle the Granby High boys lacrosse – even when they give up the first four goals of the game to Somers.
Somers and Granby shared the North Central Connecticut Conference (NCCC) championship this spring with each team going 9-1. The teams split the two-game season series with each team winning on their home field.
The Spartans led by four goals after one quarter and twice had leads of three goals in the third quarter but Granby slowed down Somers enough to earn an 11-10 victory in the NCCC Tournament championship game Thursday at Suffield High.
Tournament MVP Dominic Pagano scored the final of his game-high six goals with 1:29 remaining to put the Bears ahead for good.
In the championship of the girls NCCC Tournament, top-ranked Avon allowed only three goals in the second half to outlast a pesky Granby squad, 14-12. The Falcons, who won the NCCC championship this season with a 10-0 record, took home the tournament title for the third straight season.
The boys game was a hard-fought thriller that came down to a few big plays. With the score tied at 10, Somers’ Ray McCarthy dropped the ball in the Granby crease. Pagano scooped up the loose ball and nearly ran the length of the field, scoring with 1:29 remaining.
In the third quarter, Somers goalie Alex Bliesner made a save on a shot by Pagano. But when Bliesner tried to clear the ball, Pagano stepped in front the pass for the interception. He took a step and scored to cut the Spartans lead to two goals, 7-5.
“In a game with two good teams, every mistake is a critical mistake,” Granby coach Dave Emery said. “It is critical because you lose possession of the ball. If you give a good team extra possessions, it can come back and bite you. You can’t make unforced errors against a good team.”
Later in the quarter, Zach Quinn scored one of his three goals with one second left in the quarter to cut the Somers’ lead to one, 8-7.
Granby tied the game on a goal from senior co-captain Josh Ferreria with 9:33 remaining in the game and took its first lead on a goal from Pagano with 6:40 left in the game. That came after Somers’ had hit the post on its previous possession. Pagano scored again to extend the lead to 10-8.
But Somers (15-2) rallied on goals from Steve Astone and Ray McCarthy to tie the game at 10-10 with3:47 remaining.
Granby won its first NCCC Tournament title since 2010.
“This means everything,” said Ferreria. “This was a statement win for us. We’re ready to roll.”
The Bears erased a five-goals deficit in a game against Somers earlier this year and turned a one-goal halftime lead against Avon in the tournament semifinal into a seven-goal victory.
“We have faith in our boys,” Ferreira said. “We take it one step at a time and work our way back into the game.”
Goalie Brendan Moore had eight saves for the Bears, who outshot the Spartans, 30-25. Eight different players scored for Somers, led by Eddie Hill with two goals. It was a disappointing loss for Somers, which left its second place trophy alone on the sideline while they had a team meeting.
The two teams could meet for a fourth time if both advance to the Class S finals. They are on opposite sides of the bracket. Somers is the No. 2 seed and Granby is seeded fourth.
In the girls tournament final, Avon trailed by one, 9-8 at haltime but scored three of the first four goals of the second half to take command of the contest with a 12-10 lead.
Twice, Granby was able to cut the lead to two. Olivia Johnson scored with 5:07 remaining to trim the Avon lead to 13-11. But Avon’s Emma Cohen scored her third goal to extend the lead to two about a minute later. Johnson scored again with 3:46 remaining to cut the lead to two, 14-12 but Avon was able to run out the clock.
All-American forward Britt Douglas led the Falcons with five goals while Hannah Davey added four. Granby received a game-high six goals from Johnson, who scored Granby’s final four goals of the contest.
Avon goalie Paige Hammick was named the tournament MVP after stopping 14 shots in net. Granby goalie Hala VanNostrand made six saves.
“Granby played much better than we did in the first half and we were lucky to be down by a goal,” Avon coach Sean Cole said. “We played better in the second half. But we haven’t played as well as we against Hand (last Friday, a 14-11 victory). We’re capable of playing much better.”
Granby coach Terri Ziemnicki said that Johnson was the best player on the field. “We came out fired up and we played aggressively the whole game,” she said.
“The difference was that we made a few costly mistakes, turned the ball over and they capitalized.”
Granby earned the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Class S tournament and hosts Morgan on Tuesday. Avon is the No. 1 seed in the Class M tournament and on Tuesday hosts the winner of Sunday’s game between Bacon Academy and Watertown.
Boys NCCC Tournament final
Granby 11, Somers 11
Granby (14-3) 0 3 4 4 — 11
Somers (15-2) 4 1 3 2 — 10
Goals: Granby – Max Mason, Zach Quinn 3, Josh Ferreria, Dominic Pagano 6; Somers – Connor Wyllie, Ray McCarthy, Eddie Hill 2, Spencer Beebe, Steve Astone, Dom Giacello, Christian Daley; Assists: Granby – Ferreria, Shane Kertanis, Logan Strain 2; Somers – Wyllie 2, Ryan Lynch, Hill, Astone, Marc Bedulieu; Saves – Brendan Moore (G) 8, Alex Bliesner (S) 11; Shots – Granby 30-25
Girls NCCC Tournament final
Avon 14, Granby 12
Granby (14-4) 9 3 — 12
Avon (15-2) 8 6 — 14
Goals: Avon – Emma Cohen 3, Hannah Davey 4, Britt Douglass 5, Sammy Maniatty, Abby Welch; Granby – Molly Freedman 2, Katie Calnen Krista Iwanicki 2, Abby Orosz, Olivia Johnson 6; Assists: Avon – Cohen, Douglass; Granby – Iwanicki 2, Johnson 2; Saves – Paige Hammick (A) 14, Hala Van Nostrand (G) 6