Wrecker laxmen beat Ludlowe 11-10 in overtime
Overcoming adversity was crucial for the Staples boys lacrosse team Saturday.
Staples blew a 5-2 halftime lead and lost its best player -- senior tri-captain Kip Orban -- for part of the game after a Fairfield Ludlowe player fell on him and his knee hit Orban's back. But in the end, the Wreckers overcame all obstacles and erased a three-goal deficit and defeated Ludlowe (1-1) 11-10 in overtime to raise their record to 2-0. Moreover, Staples has now won 18 straight regular season games.
"That was a wild game," Wreckers Coach Paul McNulty said. "I tell them if you play as hard as you can the entire game, good things will happen."
Staples took a 5-2 lead in the first half but the Falcons scored five unanswered goals in the third quarter to take a 7-5 lead.
"We did really well in the first half but after Kip went down, I felt we needed production after getting killed on the defensive end," Senior tri-captain Charlie Ross said.
Orban suffered the injury in the third quarter after Ludlowe made it 5-4 and the Wreckers looked like a different team when he was on the sidelines.
"Kip's injury definitely affected us on the offensive side of the ball," Staples senior tri-captain Matt Yeager said. "He's a leader by example with the way he plays. His absence hurt us on offense and it put pressure on our defense because we didn't possess the ball when he was on the sidelines. We made mistakes on defense and we still would have made them even if Kip was in the game, but in the end, we came back and won."
No one can fault Yeager, who anchored the defense with nine ground balls and broke up many plays. Classmate Greg Lewis, junior Tom Jenkins and sophomore Greg Struass are defensive short stick midfielders and complemented Yeager.
"We were proud we allowed only two goals in the first half but we didn't play like we could have in the second half," Yeager said. "When one guy breaks down, it's the whole team breaking down."
After the Wreckers cut the deficit to one in the fourth quarter, 7-6, the Falcons answered with two games and had a 9-6 lead and the momentum. Time was winding down and the streak looked like it was coming to an end. Staples and its captains had other plans.
"Facing the adversity with five minutes to go, I said in the huddle the game isn't close to being over and we had to keep fighting," Yeager said. "We won crucial faceoffs from Kip and Greg Lewis and we had them for the most part."
Orban came back in the fourth quarter and his mere presence made the difference.
"We came back when Kip was in because he's a special player and has a calming influence on the team," Ross said.
"Injuries are part of that game, but my focus was on getting back in the game and contributing in any way possible," Orban said. "Our team was able to make the comeback by staying focused and poised late in the fourth quarter. We knew that if we remained positive and kept hustling we could overcome the two goal deficit. Our offense took advantage of lock-down defense, overall it was a great team effort."
Ross tied it 9-9 with 59 seconds left and gave Staples a 10-9 advantage with 33 seconds left. Orban assisted on both goals.
"Both of my goals were off of Kip's productive offense," Ross said. "When he dodges, he draws defenders like a magnet. He hit me in front of the cage, which is an easy shot to score on."
Ludlowe's Nate Ryan tied it with 13 seconds to go and forced an overtime period.
Enter Wrecker junior Jake Frimet, who scores the game winner with four seconds left in overtime. Frimet got the ball with 13 seconds left.
"I got the ball from [junior] Billy Lahiff off of scramble and Charlie Ross had a great ground ball beforehand," Frimet said. "We had to be physical the entire game. When I got the ball, I said to myself `why not score the goal?' One of their middles came up to me and I dodged him. Another swung and missed as well and I managed to roll by him."
Senior J.B. Breig made 13 saves and picked up two ground balls for Staples.
"J.B. played a great game," McNulty said.
Also scoring for the Wreckers were senior Nick Maki (two goals, one assist) and junior Peter Paul (one goal). Orban, Ross and sophomore Joey Zelkowitz got to the loose ball and had five, four and three ground balls, respectively. Senior Kosta Papadopoulos, Frimet, sophomore Quinn Mendelson and Strauss had two ground balls each. Maki and Lahiff each had a ground ball.
"It's a huge win," Ross said. "Our team has a knack to start slow and pick it up. We came out strong, then fell behind and came back. It shows our team has a lot of character because we have the drive, determination and energy to succeed."
Yeager said, "Ludlowe is a good team and will make some noise in the FCIAC."
Orban said, "This team has a lot of heart, everyone is willing to step up in a challenging situation. We're all committed to each other and the team's goals, and are willing to work together through adversity. This is a gritty team loaded with character."