BOYS LACROSSE Bruins suffer first loss
GREENWICH — Erasing a five-goal, fourth quarter deficit, Brunswick School clearly had the momentum heading into overtime of its much-anticipated lacrosse showdown against The Hill Academy on Wednesday.
Yet the visiting Pride turned to Dyson Williams, the player who gave them the momentum in the first half, for a response, once overtime began.
And Williams certainly answered the call in this matchup involved two nationally-ranked squads
A senior attackman, Williams’ goal with 2 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in overtime lifted The Hill Academy from Ontario, Canada, to a thrilling 12-11 victory over host Brunswick, before a big crowd.
Brunswick entered the game ranked fourth in the Inside Lacrosse/Under Armour national poll, while Hill Academy was No. 6. Williams’ overtime tally most likely moved his squad, which is 9-1, up in the rankings.
He scored a game-high six goals for the victors, while the 9-1 Bruins were paced by three goals from senior midfielder AJ Delgado and two goals apiece from senior midfielder Cooper Moore and junior midfielder Liam Fairback.
In overtime, Brunswick received possession first after junior Koby Ginder won the faceoff, but the Bruins were soon charged with a delay infraction, which awarded the ball to Hill Academy.
On the game-winner, Williams caught a pass on the left wing, dodged a bit to get an angle and snapped a laser past Bruins senior goalie Christian Barnard, giving the Pride the win.
“We had a set play for that situation and if we don’t get it on the first look, we have to work through our progressions, which we did,” Williams said of his game-winning tally. “We’ve been in this situation before, so we felt we knew what we needed to do. We have one loss this season, so we wanted to rebound from it with a win today, which we knew we needed.”
The Bruins, who registered a 14-8 triumph against Hill in 2018, were behind, 9-4, at halftime and 10-5 after three quarters of play.
“I felt like they took advantage of more of their opportunities in the first half than we did,” Brunswick coach David Bruce said. “Our defense did a very good job in the second half, allowing only one goal. Christian Barnard played really well in goal, we just were a little off, a little sloppy in the first half.”
Sophomore Coulter Mackesy began Brunswick’s fourth-quarter comeback. His tally in transition at the 8:11 mark brought the Bruins to within 10-6. Senior midfielder Michael Gottlieb went top shelf with a shot from 15 yards out, then Delgado tallied off a pass from senior Christian Ronda, making it a 10-8 game.
After Adam Poitras scored off a dodge with 3:44 to go in the final quarter, the Bruins answered with three straight tallies to force overtime. Junior midfielder Liam Fairback notched a pair of goals during a 17-second span, then Moore scored off a well-executed dodge, evening the score at 11-11 with 2:24 remaining in regulation.
“When we were down to start the fourth quarter, we knew we had to come back, because we wanted this game really bad,” Fairback said. “On offense, we knew we had to go to goal, move the ball and try to break down their defense. We started finishing in the fourth quarter.”
Said Delgado: “Our mission was to be ranked No. 1 in the nation, but the season isn’t over yet, there is a long way to go. Our shots began to fall in the second half. We have to just come back tomorrow and use this tough loss as motivation.”
Hill struck first, scoring the game’s first goal 1:23 into the first quarter. The tally marked the first time all season the Bruins trailed in a game.
Michigan-bound attack Josh Zawada gave the Pride a 2-0 lead, finishing off a run from behind at the 9:36 mark of the first quarter. Delgado tallied Brunswick’s first goal, converting a perimeter shot with 8:41 to go in the first quarter, cutting Hill Academy’s lead to 2-1.
Winning the ensuing face off, the Pride quickly scored, as senior midfielder Graydon Hogg carried the ball downfield and found the back of the net with a shot from close in, making it 3-1. A transition from Williams put Hill on top, 4-1 with 5:51 to go in the opening stanza.
“We challenged our team to get off to a fast start against Brunswick,” Hill Academy coach Brodie Merrill said. “We emphasized that, after what happened here last year when we started slowly, enabling them to get a lead. This was a great game, we knew it was going to be this type of game.”
Delgado snapped a shot from five yards out by Hill senior goalie John Wright, bringing the Bruins to within 4-2, but Williams scored off a dodge with 2:05 left to play in the opening quarter, giving the Pride a three-goal edge. Thanks to Delgado, Brunswick again came to within two goals of the visitors, as he put a laser past Wright at the 1:02 mark of the opening quarter.
Trailing 6-3, the Bruins made it 6-4 when Moore was on the mark with a shot from 15 yards out midway through the second quarter. Yet the Pride closed the second quarter with three consecutive tallies to enter halftime with a 9-4 advantage.
Williams scored all three goals late in the first half, capping his five-goal first half.
The third quarter was a defensive duel, as both squads had to work hard to get shots due to solid defensive play. Barnard made three saves in goal in the quarter for the Bruins, who received a goal from sophomore Brody Firestein.
Barnard made seven saves in goal for the Bruins, who were paced defensively by Charles Packard, Logan Darrin and Isaac Sacks.
“We started the game a little sloppy, we may have been a little too emotional at the beginning of the game — we’ve been waiting for this game for a long time,” Moore said. “Our captains gave us a really good speech at halftime and we received good leadership from our seniors in the second half. This will motivate us.”