— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) May 27, 2021
WESTPORT — If you expected a running-clock, over-by-halftime, 16-2 win for No. 4 Staples over Wilton in the FCIAC boys lacrosse semifinals, you’d have been thought out of your mind by most before about 5:30 Wednesday afternoon.
Unless, perhaps, you threw that one out in the Staples locker room, in which case you’d apparently have fit right in.
“We knew if we came out and played the best game we can play, yeah, we 100% expected a score like this,” senior defender Kevin Lynch said.
Wait, what? They’re a confident group, winners of nine in a row, but playing the No. 5 team in the state, which beat Staples in the regular season: still?
“We put in the work. After last game, we lost to them by three. We knew that wasn’t us. This was totally expected, honestly. We knew we were way better of a team than them.”
It ain’t bragging if you can back it up, and four goals in the back half of the first quarter — two apiece for Tyler Clark and Best — and three more by halftime gave the Wreckers (15-3) an 8-0 lead and more breathing room than they’d need.
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) May 27, 2021
At that point, Wilton (13-5) had six shots, period, all in the last 6:30 of the second quarter.
The second-seeded Wreckers will play for the first time for the conference championship on Friday at 5 p.m. at New Canaan against top-seeded, top-ranked Darien, which beat Ridgefield 16-9.
“My older brother, and I had cousins that came through here, and they all played. so what we always say is we represent these guys when we come out and play,” Lynch said. “To be able to be the first, and to be the captain of the team that goes, it just means so much to me.”
Both semifinals were supposed to be at New Canaan on Wednesday. The threat of thunderstorms moved Darien’s game up from 7:30 to 5 p.m. to match the Staples-Wilton start, and then both games were moved to the higher seed’s stadium.
Charlie Howard’s three goals gave him 58 for the season, a school record. Michael Reale (2016) and Joey Zelkowitz (2013) had shared the mark.
Henry Dodge dominated faceoffs again, losing perhaps one a quarter. There were some early runs of turnovers after Henry Beck put the Wreckers up in the first minute, and they had to kill off a two-minute illegal-stick penalty to Charlie Howard. And then they took off.
“That was about as perfect as we could play,” Staples coach Will Koshansky said.
“I think our senior leadership in practices has been through the roof, and the intensity we played with in practice carried over today. We were just faster. We moved the ball, we ran, we slid: Everything we did on the field today was just faster, and that was the result.”
Wilton turned the ball over twice on that man-up situation.
“Really not one aspect of the game did we have it in synch today. Just wasn’t our day, I guess,” said Wilton coach Steve Pearsall, whose team had won seven in a row. “Give credit to them. They rolled us. There’s no doubt about that, right? We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to get our mojo back. It’s got to be heart and hustle from here on out. Now we’re one-and-done.”
All eight teams in the FCIAC playoffs will compete in the CIAC Class L playoffs that start on the weekend. Ridgefield plays Saturday, part of why the semifinals had to happen Wednesday.
Staples, the second seed, gave Darien (17-1) one of its toughest games this year. The Wave won 10-7 on April 29. Among the Wreckers missing were Best and Derek Sale.
Full-strength Staples was a sight on Wednesday.
“Our attack did a great job of dodging their poles. Most of the time you say try and dodge their shorties, but we were comfortable dodging any of their guys,” Koshansky said.
Koshansky mentioned that the seniors held a meeting before the playoffs to try to focus the team. Lynch said it followed a 15-13 win over St. Joseph.
“We just talked about what it takes to be a family, what it takes to be a championship team,” Lynch said. “We knew we had it, but there was a lump in the road. We knew we couldn’t let that bother us. We were a tighter group than anyone out here.”
At halftime, Jim Kuczo gave an impassioned talk on mental health awareness that had the crowd rapt. Kuczo’s son, Kevin, died by suicide on Feb. 4, and he has been talking to high school and youth teams all season.
STAPLES 16, WILTON 2
WILTON 0 0 1 1—2
STAPLES 5 3 4 4—16
Records: Wilton 13-5; Staples 15-3. Scoring: W—Grant Masterson 1 goal; Jack Rosen 1 goal; S—Charlie Howard 3 goals, 3 assists; Aidan Beck 5g; Tyler Clark 2g, 3a; Derek Sale 3g; Henry Beck 1g; Ryan Thompson 1g; Gavin Rothenberg 1g; Matt Burger 1a; Henry Dodge 1a; Josh Friedman 1a. Goalies: W—Colin Lenskold (7 saves); S—J.P. Kosakowski (9). Shots: W—21; S—36.
DARIEN 15, RIDGEFIELD 9
Fifth-seeded Ridgefield (11-7) cut into Darien’s lead at times in the other semifinal, but the Blue Wave ran away at the end, 15-9, behind freshman attackman Brady Pokorny’s six goals.
Matt Minicus scored three goals and three assists. Matt Stein and Jamison Moore had four points apiece, and Finn Pokorny and Connor O’Malley both scored twice.
Tighe Cummiskey and Chase Gulick combined to go 24-for-30 on faceoffs for Darien, and Andy Demopoulos made 12 saves.
Brett D’Alexander scored four for Ridgefield, and Kyle Colsey scored twice. Luke Winkler, Ryan Colsey and Josiah deGrasse each scored a goal. Matthew Shepard made eight saves.