Even with one huge victory to its credit the Weston High boys lacrosse team was all too aware of what it could expect from Joel Barlow in the state Class S semifinals.
The Trojans, who stunned Barlow for their first-ever South-West Conference championship last month, knew their opponent would be looking for revenge in a rematch.
While the Trojans effectively took their opponent out of its game plan the first time around Barlow did a good job adjusting since then. By dominating important aspects of the game, Barlow set the tone early en route to a 16-4 win last Wednesday, June 6, under the lights at Fairfield Ludlowe High.
“When we played them the last time we had a good game plan,” said Weston head coach John Mathews, whose team won 8-6 in the SWC finals. “They adjusted.”
In the earlier contest Weston slowed down Barlow’s fast-paced style of play. This time the Falcons did not give the Trojans a similar opportunity.
Right from the start Barlow controlled most of the play, including face-offs as well as 50/50 ground balls. It did not take long for it to see the fruits of its efforts.
Little more than two minutes into the action the Falcons were up 1-0 with Tom Samaritano scoring their first goal. Yet it did not appear Barlow would run away with it until later.
The Trojans responded with Lyle Mitchell slipping a shot past Falcon goalie Cooper Brown at the 8:42 mark. Their lone lead of the night came less than two minutes later with Sean Fumai scoring to make it 2-1.
Determined not to let things turn into a repeat of the SWC title game, Barlow picked up the pace, winning the face-offs, the ground balls and creating scoring opportunities. With three minutes left to go in the first quarter the Falcons scored three times, the last coming with 40 seconds to go on another goal by Samaritano as they led 4-2.
“They beat us in every aspect of the game.” said Mathews.
It was the beginning of a six-goal run that lasted well into the next frame. Continuing to win the face-offs, the Falcons quickly moved down field. Liam Rooney scored next, taking the rebound of a shot initially saved by Grant Limone and sending it into the net.
Barlow tacked on two more goals before the half ended but the Trojans did stop the run before that. Jack Scheufele scored with 30.8 seconds left as the scoreboard read 7-3.
Down four goals with a whole second half to go the Trojans faced a tough but not impossible situation. However, Barlow took care of business when play resumed with a seven-goal run that lasted until the last quarter.
“They have better shooters than when we played them the last time,” said Mathews. “Give credit to Barlow.”
The Falcons continued to capitalize on their opportunities until 4:40 remained in the game when Jesse Laico netted what would be his team’s final goal of the season as Weston trailed 14-4.
“It’s a tough way to go out,” said Mitchell, who will play at Wesleyan University next year. “We accomplished a lot more than anybody thought.
Besides Mitchell, Scheufele, Fumai and Laico all scored a goal apiece. Richie Miller and Matt Brooks each had assists.
Grant Limone made 15 saves in goal for Weston, which finished the season at 17-5 overall.