Heading into the South-West Conference Division I championship, the Weston High boys lacrosse team knew exactly what it had to do to have a chance against Joel Barlow.The third-seeded Trojans had to stop Barlow’s high-powered attack, which was averaging 14 goals per game prior to the championship. It also had to find a way to get through its opponent’s stingy defense.
By slowing down Barlow’s fast-paced style of play the Trojans forced it to take shots that often missed the mark. Weston, on the other hand, was more patient with the ball. When scoring opportunities came the Trojans took them, outscoring their top-seeded opponent 8-6 for an upset victory and their first-ever league title on Friday, May 25, at Newtown High.
“These kids really deserve it,” said Weston head coach John Mathews, whose team lost an 11-1 decision to Barlow during the regular season.
The Trojans, who never trailed, struck first with two goals by Lyle Mitchell within the first seven minutes of the opening quarter. Barlow responded with 3:39 left to play on Matt Billy’s goal.
Both sides exchanged goals in the last minute as the Trojans went up 3-1 on Jack Scheufele’s tally, only to have the Falcons counter with Jesse Beatty cutting the lead to 3-2 by the end of the first quarter.
It became a defensive game for the remainder of the half with the Trojans accounting for the lone goal of the second quarter, coming on a shot by Scheufele with 9:48 remaining as Weston led 4-2.
Striking quickly at the start of the second half, the Trojans scored three goals in the first two and a half minutes, starting with a wrap-around shot by Sean Fumai at 10:37. Only seven seconds later, Mitchell scored following the face-off as Peter Robbins assisted.
With Fumai finding the net again the Trojans had a 7-2 advantage with 9:38 left in the period.
Barlow finally responded with just under nine minutes to go, courtesy of Mike Mattson. Perhaps the most surprising goal came a minute later. After scooping up the ball, Weston goalie Grant Limone made his way up field. Not challenged by the Barlow defense, he drew close enough to his opponent’s net and took a shot that got passed Cooper Brown to put Weston up 8-3.
“He just kept going,” noted Mathews. “They gave him a shot and he took it.”
Yet even with a five-goal lead Weston had to beware, as Barlow’s Nolan Stauffer scored three of his own, the last coming with 8:20 left in the game to cut the lead to 8-6.
For the time remaining Weston would have to count on its defense, including Grey Bradshaw-Mack, Riley Nichols and Pat Rogers. Limone was also called on to make a number of key saves, including one on a shot by Liam Rooney with 1:25 left.
Barlow never threatened again as Weston held the ball until time expired.
Mitchell led Weston with three goals. Scheufele and Fumai had two apiece. Robbins and Matt Brooks had one and two assists respectively.
Besides scoring a goal, Limone made 16 saves and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“That kid is getting better and better,” said Mathews. “I’m so proud of him.”
This may not be the last time the two teams meet this season. Both are in the same bracket in the state Class S tournament and could very well face each other in the semifinals on Wednesday.