Staples beats NFA convincingly
Updated 5:51 pm, Thursday, May 31, 2012
Seeded 13th and on the road all the way up at fourth-seeded Norwich Free Academy, the Wreckers knew the records and seedings could be thrown out the window.
The Staples boys lacrosse team proved itself right with a convincing 11-4 win in the first round of the Class L State Tournament on Wednesday, raising its record to 10-8.
The Wreckers got six goals and an assist from Joey Zelkowitz, four goals from Peter Paul, and one from Jacob Korus. Colin Bannon had five assists, and Kyle Murray also assisted a net-finder. Staples goaltender Cole Gendels made 10 saves.
The Wreckers posted an 8-3 mark in the always-tough FCIAC and took their licks in non-conference games against tough competition from around and out of the state to the tune of a 1-4 record. That hurt the team's postseason seeding, made it deceptive for sure, but proved to be beneficial as those tough tests helped prepare the Wreckers for challenging playoff games, Staples coach Paul McNulty noted.
"In the playoffs it's like starting all over again. We were prepared to play our best game of the year," said McNulty, adding that he was pleased with his team's all-around efforts.
Staples established a 5-1 halftime lead and never looked back. "We came out with confidence and took it to them early," Zelkowitz said. The Staples high-scorer added that his goals were made possible by the solid pass work of his teammates.
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"It's great. A state playoff win is great - especially against a higher-ranked team," McNulty said.
"It's just a really good team win," junior Quinn Mendelson added.
McNulty was especially happy with the work of his defenders, including that of Adam Levinson, Lance Lonergan, Mendelson, Isaac Paparo, Garrett Jordan, Jared Levi, Greg Strauss, Pat Lesch and Will Johnson.
The team as a whole has been coming together and playing its best lacrosse at just the right time - playoff time. "They've been doing better and better and that's all you can ask," McNulty said.
It's a good time to be at their best. The Wreckers stand to have a tough test at No. 5 Fairfield Prep in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
"They're motivated just the same as we are so we're expecting a very hard game," the Staples coach said.
Unlike the Wreckers, Prep's appears not to be so misleading. The Jesuits have 13 wins and year after year have earned some tough ones against non-conference opponents, including nationally-ranked teams.
"They're a good team. It's going to be tough," Zelkowitz said.
McNulty said that to succeed his Wreckers need to continue to play strong defense and control the ball on offense - goals of the team throughout the campaign.