The Staples High boys lacrosse had to rely on its biggest strength to pull out a win heading into the FCIAC tournament.
The Wreckers' defense was more than up to the challenge.
Colin Bannon and Joey Zelkowitz each netted second-half hat tricks as Staples ensured a winning end to its regular season with an 8-4 victory over rival Weston on Wednesday evening at home. The win avenged an 8-5 defeat to the Trojans a year ago.
"Over the last couple of years it's been a good rivalry game," Staples' Quinn Mendelson said. "We knew it was coming. One of my friends is on (Weston's) defense so it becomes a personal game; end of the season, under the lights, all that."
Shooting accuracy was fleeting in the first half as the Wreckers (12-3) fired 20 shots toward the Weston cage but managed only two goals.
"The spot where we were shooting from, that type of shot was not the right angle," Staples coach Paul McNulty said. "We moved out a little and adjusted our release."
Not too many shots had to find the back of the net the way Staples' defense was performing. Led by Mendelson, the Wreckers didn't allow much room for Trojans' shots. Goalie Cole Gendels was solid in stopping any shots that made it to him.
"After last week, we gave up 13 to St. John the Baptist, we made it a point on defense to keep (Weston) under five this week," Mendelson said. "We did what we had to do; we moved our feet well, talked well on defense and communicated."
After falling behind 2-0 after the first quarter, the Trojans (8-8) got to work, with Sean Fumei scoring twice to make it a 2-2 game at the half. The first came on an excellent sharp angle shot and the second on a beautiful pass from behind the net by Eli Page.
"The defense has been great all year," McNulty said. "We knew that (Fumai) could play and (Weston) has good shooters. The defense has been great, which is what you want."
Weston managed to stay in the contest as a result of an outstanding performance in the cage by junior goalie Grant Limone. Limone made 11 saves and thwarted a number of point-blank opportunities by Staples.
But Staples, which outscored the Trojans 6-2 in the second half, got enough offense to secure the win.
"Shoot better, better shots and attack the goal before (Weston) could set up their zone," McNulty said. "(Banon and Zelkowitz) got one or two in that scenario."
Trailing 7-4 with 2:51 left, the Trojans got a man-up opportunity in an attempt to narrow the deficit. However, the Wreckers forced a turnover and Bannon completed his hat trick with 35 seconds left.
The Wreckers are seeded fifth in the FCIAC tournament and will travel to No. 4 Greenwich for the first round on Saturday at 11 a.m. Staples fell to the Cardinals 8-3 during the regular season, but the Wreckers closed the season with eight straight wins.
"We're really excited; we cannot wait," Mendelson said. "The last couple of years we have had early exits from the FCIAC playoffs. We want to make a run in both FCIACs and states. We've been waiting for this since the end of last year."
Ryan Lacey is a freelance writer
STAPLES 8, WESTON 4
WESTON 0 2 1 1 -- 4
STAPLES 0 0 0 3 -- 8
Records: Weston 8-8, Staples 12-3.
Scoring: W -- Sean Fumai (2 g), Troy Flynn (1g), Richard Miller (1g); S -- Colin Bannon (3g, 3a), Joey Zelkowitz (3g, 1a), Greg Strauss (2g). Goalies: W -- Grant Limone (11 saves); S -- Cole Gendels (9). Shots: W -- 16; S -- 34.