The anticipation and excitement grew for Greenwich High School as each second passed during the last minute of Saturday's Class L Tournament final against Staples and when time expired, the Cardinals' long-awaited celebration began.
Sticks and helmets were tossed in the air and a sea of white jerseys surrounded goalie Tommy Rogan shortly after the buzzer sounded, ending 48 minutes of action the Cardinals won't forget.
This year's Greenwich team will be remembered as the first squad in school history to win the state boys lacrosse title -- an accomplishment it attained with a 13-10 victory over Staples in the Class L finals at Brien McMahon High School. Senior attack Luke Finneran capped his senior season for the second-seeded Cardinals with four goals and three assists, senior Jamie Paradise tallied two goals and three assists and sophomore Will Perry recorded a hat trick.
"This was a great win for our team, I couldn't be happier for my seniors," GHS coach Scott Bulkley said. "They have been with me from the beginning to where we are now. I'm so happy for them and I'm so proud of them for all the hard work they did to get to this point."
The Cardinals (20-3) jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but the Wreckers (15-6) closed to within 6-4 at halftime. Greenwich opened an 11-6 fourth-quarter advantage, but again, Staples made it interesting, cutting the deficit to 12-10 with 5:38 remaining.
"To bring home the first state championship for Greenwich High is an amazing feeling," GHS senior defender Jack Harrington said. "I started out with most of these guys at GYL in the third and fourth grade. We all grew up playing together, so to come out here on our last day together and win the title is a surreal feeling."
The Wreckers, who defeated the Cards in last season's Class L Tournament quarterfinals, received two goals and one assist from senior midfielder Patrick Lesch and two goals from senior midfielder Will Johnson. Staples also entered Saturday's matchup seeking its first state championship.
"We kept battling, which is what we asked them to do and our guys kept fighting to the very end," Staples coach Paul McNulty, whose squad lost to Fairfield Prep in last season's state final. "Our boys did not give up and like the Amity game, we came back. That's what we have been doing all year."
Junior Michael Sullivan won the game's opening faceoff for Greenwich and the Cards tallied on their first possession. Paradise fed attack Bobby Goggin from behind and the sophomore put a short shot past Wreckers goalie Cole Gendels, giving GHS a 1-0 lead 1:56 into the first quarter.
In a man-up situation, the Cardinals took a 2-0 advantage, as senior midfielder Ryan Flippin converted a shot from 15 yards out at the 9:19 mark.
Back-to-back goals from Paradise off passes from Finneran, put Greenwich on top, 4-0 late in the first quarter.
"We went up four goals, which really set the tone for us," Flippin said. "Our goal was to get up on them early. We knew if we executed our offense we would not give up the lead."
Said McNulty: "The first quarter they came out a little bit faster than us. They had the advantage in the beginning, but our guys corrected that and hung in there."
Staples seized the momentum at the start of the second quarter, tallying three straight goals.
Senior midfielder Pete Blevins put a low shot by Rogan, Johnson tallied in transition and junior Tucker Bobrow scored on a catch-and-shoot, making it 4-3.
Junior attackman Decker Curran scored off a feed from Flippin, then Finneran tallied, giving Greenwich a 6-3 edge. Sullivan, meanwhile, performed well at the faceoff X, winning 13 faceoffs.
Getting goals from faceoff man Eric Zurmuehle and Lesch, the Wreckers closed to within 6-5, but Cardinals senior defender Jack Nail made it a two-goal game. Nail picked up a ground ball, sprinted the length of the field and scored his first goal of the season.
"Griffin Tiedy got the ball first, then Jack Harrington gave me a great pass, so we were all part of that goal, it was fun," Nail said. "It was the first goal for our defensemen this season. Winning this game today feels fantastic. This is for all the guys that we played with last year as well. It feels great to win it for them."
A man-up goal from Johnson off a Lesch pass made it 7-6, but the Cards went on a 4-0 run to seize an 11-6 fourth-quarter lead. Will Perry and Finneran each tallied twice during the spurt.
"Our offense did really well and it started with our middies finding our open shooters from behind," said Finneran, who was set up for goals twice by Curran.
Facing a five-goal deficit, Staples picked up the pace offensively, scoring four of the game's next five goals, trimming Greenwich's lead to 12-10.
"We changed the way we were attacking them and were able to get some goals," McNulty said. "The second half, we followed our plan a little better than earlier in the game."
Rogan made seven of his 10 saves during the second half for the Cardinals.
"Today, we knew we could never let up on this team, because they have come back on teams a couple of times already," Rogan said. "We knew we had to keep fighting through. It feels great to finish the season with this victory."
Greenwich 13, Staples 10
Class L state championship
STAPLES 0 3 3 4 -- 10
GREENWICH 4 2 3 4 -- 13
Records: Greenwich 20-3; Staples 15-6.
Scoring: S -- Patrick Lesch (2 g, 1 a); Will Johnson (2 g); Mike Reale (1 g, 1 a); Pete Blevins (1 g); Josh Willis (1 g); Isaac Paparo (1 g); Eric Zurmuehle (1 g); Tucker Bobrow (1 g). G -- Jamie Paradise (2 g, 3 a); Luke Finneran (4 g, 3 a); Will Perry (3 g, 1 a); Decker Curran (1 g, 2 a); Jack Nail (1 g); Bobby Goggin (1 g); Ryan Flippin (1 g, 1 a). Goalies: S -- Cole Gendels (8 saves); G -- Tommy Rogan (10 saves).