New Canaan boys lax nips Fairfield Prep, 8-7
NEW CANAAN — It wasn’t an exercise in elegance, but a choppy, hard-nosed battle that will serve two of the state’s best boys lacrosse programs well going forward.
New Canaan High jumped out early and survived late push by the visitors to grab an 8-7 non-league triumph over Fairfield Prep before a chilled partisan crowd Wednesday at Dunning Stadium.
“We got ahead 5-2 (after one period) and we thought it would be an easy afternoon,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “Then the flags started flying and the penalties were mounting. We were fortunate to get the win. We’ve got a lot of stuff to clean up.”
New Canaan (2-0), which was ranked No. 19 in the Under Armour / Inside Lacrosse Top 25 national poll, put a larger target on its back thanks to last Saturday’s 9-8 overtime road win over No. 9 Loyola Blakefield (MD).
New Canaan’s man-up unit cashed in with two goals to build the 5-2 edge after the first quarter. Ryan O’Connell, Jack Hoelzer, Clayton Burt, Kyle Smith and Peter Swindell (with 2.9 seconds left) had the NC tallies.
However, the Rams’ physical aggression began racking up penalties, giving Prep (1-1) the bulk of possession time in the second and third quarters.
Prep, which received two goals from Chris Brown and Mitchell Savoca, closed to 6-5 early in the third quarter. But Kyle Smith (two goals) and O’Connell (three goals) tallied just 1:38 apart to keep New Canaan ahead 8-5 going to the fourth quarter.
T.J. Walton and Savoca scored to bring Prep to 8-7 with 10:33 remaining.
“Both goalies made clutch saves,” said Prep coach Christopher Smalkais. “But we didn’t shoot great.”
New Canaan was scoreless in the fourth quarter, but its defense shut down Prep’s attack for the final 10:33.
“We like playing close games. It shows the type of team we are. A pair of one-goal wins is a good sign,” NC’s Morris said. “My job is to stay calm. Our defense allowed me to see shots clearly.”
Both coaches were ready to take a long view of the season with the promise of better weather.
“I can’t recall the last time we had 10 penalties. It might have been a loss to Greenwich,” Buzzeo said. “The bottom line was served, but nothing we did was really sharp. It was an ugly game. I didn’t think we’d have a letdown after the Loyola Blakefield win but we had too many mistakes.”
“We played together like a family. We fought through adversity. We didn’t get flustered. We competed although we’re working in three freshman starters and we’ve had flu running through the school,” Prep’s Smalkais said. “I’m proud of my group. We’re excited for the future.”
NEW CANAAN 8,
FAIRFIELD PREP 7
FAIRFIELD PREP 2 2 1 2 — 7
NEW CANAAN 5 1 2 0 — 8
Records: Fairfield Prep 1-1; New Canaan 2-0.
Scoring: FP — Chris Brown 2 goals, 1 assist; Mitchell Savoca 2g, 1a; Kevin Edmonds 1g; Colin Smalkais 1g, 1a; T.J. Walton 1g. NC — Ryan O’Connell 3g, 1a; Peter Swindell 1g, 1a; Jack Hoelzer 1g, 2a; Clayton Burt 1g, 1a; Kyle Smith 2g. Goalies: FP — John O’Connor (10 saves). NC — Drew Morris (9 saves).