New Canaan tops Greenwich in FCIAC quarters
The first meeting of the season between the New Canaan and Greenwich boys lacrosse teams wasn’t much of a game as the Rams rolled to a 12-4 victory in late April.
The playoffs have started, however, and it’s a whole new ball game.
New Canaan survived and advanced as they edged the Cardinals 6-4 in the FCIAC quarterfinals Saturday at Dunning Field. The score was tied 3-3 at halftime, but the Rams took the lead for good when Drew Guida and Liam Griffiths scored back-to-back goals early in the third quarter.
The close game was a perfect example of tournament lacrosse
“That’s what you get when you play in the playoffs,” New Canaan head coach Chip Buzzeo said. “Everyone’s going to get better over the season, make adjustments and these playoff games are always close, especially when you have a rivalry like New Canaan and Greenwich.”
The victory puts third-seeded New Canaan (12-5) in the FCIAC semifinals opposite No. 2 Ridgefield (15-2), which defeated Warde 15-7 in the quarterfinals on Saturday morning. The Rams and Tigers will face off at 5 p.m. at Brien McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field on Tuesday.
New Canaan and Ridgefield have not faced each other this season.
Tuesday’s late semifinal game will pit No. 1 Darien (13-4) against No. 4 Wilton (9-8).
Greenwich, which had won its last three games, including victories over Somers (N.Y.) and Iona Prep (N.Y.) dropped to 8-8, but took away plenty of positives from the quarterfinal game.
“We were a little bit more prepared and we had a little momentum with the three-game winning streak over some good teams,” Greenwich head coach Bobby Lutz said. “The positive attitude and the feeling that we could win carried onto the field. We had some really good practices leading up to it and we had a good game plan, but the attitude was the biggest difference.”
The teams rode a roller coaster in the first half, as neither the Cards nor Rams could get in a rhythm on offense.
New Canaan received a big lift from its defense, with senior George Dumbauld shutting down Greenwich’s top weapon, Jack Feda. Goalie Carl Mazabras made six saves and long poles Jackson Braden, Jack Finnigan and Walker Kerr were on point.
“George Dumbauld did a great job on their best player, Jack Feda, and to get Walker Kerr back in the lineup is big — he’s getting stronger and stronger every day,” Buzzeo said. “Our defense is really playing well. We’re making stops, getting the ball up and out and our clear is very good. We need them to play well because these games are going to be close.”
On the other side, Greenwich goalie Teddy Bacon was great while collecting 10 saves, and defenders Chris Cataldo, Tyler Dietrich and James O’Malley helped hold off the Rams, even limiting the Rams’ top weapon, Quintin O’Connell, to one assist.
New Canaan struck quickly in the third quarter. Griffiths set up Guida for a goal at 1:57, and Griffiths then made a great play in front, catching a high pass from Will Rechtermann, spinning and firing in an under-hand goal for a 5-3 lead at 3:02.
“At halftime, we knew we had to pick it up,” Griffiths said. “We were in a lull, but we came out and got a couple of quick ones and we were going from there. Everything was clicking a little better and our shots started falling.”
After the Cards’ Matt Davey scored to close the gap to one, Griffiths scored again, this time with an assist from Ryan Caione, to make it 6-4 with 5:06 remaining in the half.
Greenwich’s chances were limited the rest of the way, as New Canaan did a great job possessing the ball and chewing time off the clock.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Liam Griffiths, New Canaan. With the offenses struggling to get in stride, Griffiths came up big in the decisive third quarter, scoring twice and assisting on another goal as the Rams gained control of the scoreboard.
“There’s definitely a different feeling. It’s a lot more intense. Everything matters a lot more because its win or go home.” — New Canaan’s Liam Griffiths on playoff lacrosse
NEW CANAAN 6, GREENWICH 4
GREENWICH 2 1 1 0 — 4
NEW CANAAN 2 1 3 0 — 6
Scoring: Greenwich: Matthew Davey 1g, 1a; Lance Large 2a; Nick Veronis 1g; Will Montesi 1g; Charlie Graves 1g; Garrett Murphy 1a; New Canaan: Drew Guida 2g, 1a; Chris Canet 2g, 1a; Liam Griffiths 2g, 1a; Quintin O’Connell 1a; Will Rechtermann 1a; Ryan Caione 1a; Goalies: Greenwich: Teddy Bacon 10 saves; New Canaan: Carl Mazabras 6 saves; Records: Greenwich 8-8; New Canaan 12-5