NEW FAIRFIELD — Believe it or not, New Fairfield boys lacrosse goalie Brennan Hart felt something had been off for these Rebels in a near-perfect season to follow a perfect one.
Hart and the No. 5 Rebels’ defense shut down No. 6 Staples 10-1 at home Tuesday night, putting together a 48-minute defensive clinic to complete the regular season.
“I feel like our defense hasn’t been the best this season,” Hart said. “I feel like we’ve had a little bit of a letdown, just games we should’ve had better defensive play, better goalie play from me. Today we were clicking on all cylinders.”
The Rebels (15-1) gave up one or fewer for the sixth time in 16 games, including a shutout of Masuk. For the second game in a row, they beat the No. 6 team in the GameTimeCT poll; they topped Glastonbury 10-5 on Saturday, which dropped the Tomahawks to seventh this week.
They held Staples to five shots on target in the first half, after which New Fairfield led 6-1.
“Us four poles all talk, the (defensive-) middies do a great job, and Brennan Hart stands on his head every game,” defender Zach Buffington said. “It’s pretty tough to beat.”
Staples (12-4) allowed 10 goals for the first time this season. Charlie Howard scored the lone goal for the Wreckers, who didn’t have the ball a lot early on.
“(The Rebels) have got talented players all over the field. Their poles are some of the best we’ve faced this season,” Staples coach Will Koshansky said. “They’re unbelievable at taking the ball away, and they’re great in transition.”
Buffington scored 11 seconds into the game off a Matt Constantinides faceoff win. Dylan Hanley scored two of his four goals before the first quarter was over.
The defending Class M champions and favorites to do it again, unbeaten last year and beaten only by nationally-ranked St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) this season, had a 10-4 shots edge in the first quarter with help from the defense.
“You could throw, like, a steak in front of these guys. These guys are hungry,” New Fairfield coach Marty Morgan said of the defense. “The ground balls, the four of them pounce on it, one faster than the other, and they’re gone. I can’t even explain.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Pick a defender. Brennan Hart made 10 saves at the back of it all, making sure the outcome was never in doubt.
Staples goalie Tim Luciano made 14 saves. After Buffington’s goal, he stopped four shots quickly.
“He’s been standing on his head every game. That’s what I said in the huddle. … They provably could’ve scored eight more goals if Timmy didn’t play the way he did. We’re used to it.”
Koshansky thought a break or a goal early might’ve made it a closer game in the end. It did not help that they were without leading scorer Patrick Ciquera, who might be out for the season injured.
“15-1 is not that bad, I’m thinking.” —Brennan Hart