NEW CANAAN -- If defense indeed wins championships, then the New Canaan boys lacrosse team may very well find itself in a familiar spot two weeks from today.
The two-time reigning FCIAC champion Rams topped Don Bosco (N.J.) 7-2 Thursday with a hat trick from senior attack Harry Stanton and a first-half defensive shutout. New Canaan (12-3) will wrap up its regular season Saturday against Fairfield Prep, after holding its last four opponents to a combined 12 goals.
"We've made a couple adjustments on defense," New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. "I think the kids are responding to the adjustments. Those gaping holes we had been giving up are no longer holes. Teams are going to have to change their offensive schemes to beat us."
Despite taking the opening four faceoffs, the Ironmen failed to muster a score against their out-of-state hosts in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Rams jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead, courtesy of two goals from Justin Meichner and another from Stanton. Meichner capped off the scoring run via a well-aimed shot upstairs on a feed from fellow sophomore Kyle Smith.
Don Bosco proceeded to hold the ball for the remainder of the frame and large portions of the second, hoping to wear down a New Canaan defense that refused to yield an inch.
"We wanted to slow it down a bit," Ironmen coach Mike Springer said. "We know we can't score a lot of goals, so we wanted to keep it low. We did, and unfortunately, it just wasn't a good shooting day."
Neither team found the back of the net over the second quarter, highlighted by a 30-second holding penalty against New Canaan. Dom Bosco goalie Kiernan McCullough later snared a desperate, last-second shot to as time expired.
Following intermission, Stanton helped jumpstart New Canaan again with another goal, this time just 38 seconds into the new half. The Ironmen eventually answered on an unassisted effort from Jack Mazurek, which was soon washed away by a Colin Ahrens rebound score at the 4:23 mark. Stanton then notched his hat trick by wrapping around the right post with only moments left in the third quarter
Early in the fourth, senior captain Seth Neeleman picked up a goal in transition, which cut New Canaan's edge to 7-1. On the other end, the Ram defense repeatedly limited Bosco strictly to lateral passes and movement that couldn't garner any quality looks.
"The communication," Stanton said of what makes the Ram defense. "You can hear them hollering all day. It's also Trent in net. And our defense knows it can give up 15-yard shots and play like that because we've got one of the best goalies around."
Following its regular season finale against Fairfield Prep Saturday, New Canaan will move onto the conference tournament, looking to notch its third straight FCIAC championship. Quarterfinal play will begin on Friday, May 23 and the championship is scheduled to be held one week later at Brien McMahon High School at 7:30 p.m.
New Canaan 7, Don Bosco (N.J.) 2
DON BOSCO 0 1 2 0--10
NEW CANAAN 3 2 4 5--11
Records: Don Bosco 7-9, New Canaan 12-3, 9-2 FCIAC. Scoring: DB -- Andrew Spallanzani 1 goal, Jack Mazurek 1g, Brooks Rubino 1 assist; NC-- Harry Stanton 3 goals, Justin Meichner 2g, Colin Ahrens 1g, Seth Neeleman 1g, Kyle Smith 1 assist, Cole Turpin 1a, Robby Paul 1a; Goalies: DB -- Kiernan McCullough (8 saves) NC--Trent Nader (10). Shots: JB--12; NC--22. Highlights: DB -- The Ironmen took the opening four faceoffs and scored two second-half goals. NC -- Harry Stanton notched a hat trick, as the Rams shut out Don Bosco in the first half 3-0.