New Canaan beats Brunswick in lacrosse showdown
Published 11:34 pm, Monday, April 18, 2016
GREENWICH — Brunswick School had the momentum in its favor for the first two minutes of Saturday’s lacrosse showdown against New Canaan, but the Rams grabbed it shortly thereafter and didn’t let it out of its grasp.
Showcasing its impressive attack while playing standout defense, the Rams scored six unanswered goals in the opening half, putting the Bruins in a hole they just couldn’t climb out of.
Four goals from attackman Clayton Burt, a hat trick by midfielder Kyle Smith and 12 saves from goalie Drew Morris powered New Canaan to an impressive 13-8 victory over host Brunswick in a much-anticipated matchup featuring two nationally-ranked squads.
New Canaan, which entered the game ranked No. 7 in the USA Today “Super 25” national rankings, improved to 5-0 with the win. Brunswick (5-2) was ranked fifth in the nation.
“After we played Fairfield Prep (an 8-7 win), we stressed playing as a team,” Rams coach Chip Buzzeo said. “Cutting down on team mistakes, working toward team goals are what we have been focusing on and I think we have done that our last two games. We are playing as a team, sharing the ball and playing incredible team defense.”
The Bruins, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead 2 minutes, 5 seconds into the game, received three goals from sophomore midfielder Xander Dickson.
“Our first two goals came on our first two shots of the game, our first two possessions,” said Brunswick coach David Bruce, whose Bruins posted a 9-7 win against New Canaan last season. “Both teams have really strong offenses, but the time of possession killed us. They were better on ground balls and better in the middle of the field, giving themselves extra possessions.”
After sophomore Ben Shapiro won the opening faceoff for Brunswick, junior Max Metalios tallied in transition off a pass from sophomore Wilson Stephenson, giving the home team a 1-0 edge 21 seconds into the game. Senior midfielder Reilly Walsh’s goal off a strong run toward the cage put the Bruins on top, 2-0 on their second possession with 9:55 remaining in the first quarter.
“We just needed to take a breath,” Buzzeo said of the Bruins’ fast start. “That happens sometimes at the beginning of games, we had to regroup.”
The Rams did just that, recording the final four goals of the opening quarter. Junior midfielder Ryan O’Connell notched the equalizer with 9:16 to go in the first quarter and junior midfielder Jack Hoelzer put the visitors ahead for good at 3-2 with 4:43 left, tallying off a dodge.
“After they scored those two quick goals, we knew that we had to keep our heads up,” O’Connell said. “We knew we had to stay up the whole time no matter what kind of hole we were in and we had to just keep going.”
Senior midfielder Peter Swindell darted from behind the goal, then deposited a shot from close in past Bruins senior goalie Jack Stephenson, making it 4-2 with 17.5 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
One goal apiece from Burt and senior attackman Jackson Appelt in the second quarter gave the Rams a 6-2 lead heading into halftime. The Rams dominated possession during the second quarter and when the Bruins did have the ball, they were held at bay.
“We needed to value the ball more,” Bruce said. “I don’t think we had the ball for more than 30 seconds in the second quarter — it certainly felt that way. That’s really what did it to us.”
Morris was strong again in goal for the Rams, who received outstanding defensive play from senior David Strupp, junior James Crovatto and junior Andrew Bauresfeld.
“Those three guys are the best defensive unit we’ve had,” Buzzeo said. “They communicate well and play 1-on-1 defense extremely well. To allow only two goals against an offense like that is a credit to them.”
Buzzeo is also accustomed to seeing Morris flourish in goal.
“Drew Morris is incredible back there,” he said. “He makes saves he should, plus he makes saves that breaks hearts.”
Appelt’s tally 24 seconds into the third quarter, increased the Rams’ lead to 7-2. Dickson’s goal at the 9:37 mark stopped the Rams’ run, bringing the Bruins to within 7-3. New Canaan led 9-5 after the third quarter and opened a 12-5 advantage with 3:01 left in the fourth.
“We just made too many mistakes against a really good team,” Bruins junior midfielder John Fox said. “Tonight, we weren’t good enough on the ground balls, we had too many turnovers and too many penalties. They’re a good team, so they were able to capitalize on their man-up situations. We definitely learned a lot from this game. There’s some small things we need to work on.”
Stephenson made 12 saves for the Bruins, while Shapiro won 15 of the 24 faceoffs he took for Brunswick. Alex Buckanavage and Sean Morris also scored for the home team. Sophomore Nick Crovatto won nine faceoffs for the Rams.
“Nick is an incredible athlete,” Buzzeo said of Crovatto. “He is one of the fastest guys on our team and he has great hands.”
Said Bruce: “We have weapons offensively, we just have to get the ball to them. They have a really good goalie and a couple of really strong poles. I was really impressed with how New Canaan played on the ground balls.”