Wreckers shut down Cards
Realignment is slowly but surely taking place in boys lacrosse around the state. After being a middle of the pack team for the most part, the Staples boys lacrosse team is slowly asserting itself as an elite program. Staples raised its record to 4-0 on Saturday with a 7-5 home win over Greenwich (1-3).
"We want Staples to be able to contend with the traditional good teams in the FCIAC and state," Wreckers Coach Paul McNulty said.
Mission accomplished. Greenwich used to own Staples until the Wreckers beat the Cardinals for the first time ever last year. Staples has two other quality wins, beating defending FCIAC champion Ridgefield and Horace Greeley of New York.
In their second straight home win over the Cardinals, the Wreckers prevailed through their stingy defense. Staples didn't give Greenwich too many opportunities with senior captain Jack Ambrose (six ground balls, one takeaway) and classmate Brandon Waiter (four ground balls, two takeaways) leading the way.
Senior captain Austin Waiter (seven saves) was steady in net for the Wreckers and seniors Keith Gelman (two ground balls) and Paul Lahiff (two ground balls) along with juniors Greg Lewis (three ground balls) and Matt Yeager (one ground ball) complementing Ambrose and Brandon Waiter.
"Austin played a great game in goal and when he doesn't let goals in, it makes it easier for the defense," Ambrose said. "The offense held the ball for most of the game and it gave us a break on defense."
Staples led the whole way and took a 1-0 lead only 29 seconds into the game on senior Jeff Kelly's goal in which he dodged the defense on his way to the net. With 4:09 remaining in the first quarter, senior captain Nate Greenberg scored from six yards out after receiving a pass from junior captain Kip Orban, who dodged the defenders on his way to the net.
"It was an unsettled play," Greenberg said. "It's a matter of my teammates setting me up and being able to find the back of the net."
Orban (eight shots, one goal, one assist, two ground balls), who is arguably the team's best player, has established himself as one of the top players in the area. Because of his reputation, opposing defenders and goalies key on him and the Cardinals, who covered him like a blanket, weren't in exception to this rule.
"They were definitely on me but we did a good job of setting up the offense," Orban said. "It gave us movement and it opened up space for our dodgers and gave us opportunities."
Greenwich didn't quit and scored a goal in the first quarter and tied it 2-2 with 6:19 left in the half to tie it 2-2.
With 3:02 to go in the half, Wrecker junior Charlie Ross (one goal, two assists, two ground balls) circled around the net and scored to give Staples the lead for good, 3-2, which was the score at the half.
The Wreckers controlled the ball for the first three minutes of the second half and although they didn't score, they set the tone for the rest of the way. The Cardinals tried to tie it up but Ambrose and Brandon Waiter broke up plays. Junior David Dickson is to Greenwich's attack as Orban is to Staples but Yeager shadowed him all game and limited Dickson to two goals.
"Matt Yeager covered Dickson well and he couldn't get by him," Brandon Waiter said. "We hustled for the ball and got transition goals."
McNulty said, "The defense was able to control their top players. Matt Yeager, Jack Ambrose, Brandon Waiter, Keith Gelman, Paul Lahiff and [senior] Seth Cadan played very well."
After Brandon Waiter forced a missed shot and Yeager caused a turnover, Ross fed junior Nick Makki, who scored with 4:34 left in the third quarter to extend the lead to 4-2. Orban had a layup style goal with 2:28 remaining to make it 5-2.
Dickson came back 48 seconds later to cut it to 5-3, but after Gelman forced another Cardinal misfire, the Wreckers had it on the transition. Staples dealt a dagger into Greenwich's hearts with two seconds to go when Brandon Waiter flicked home a goal from 20 yards out off a centering pass from Ross.
"Charlie had a good look and I was waiting it out," Brandon Waiter said. "I saw an opening and took the shot."
Ross said, "I had my head up and went around the net. I saw Brandon open and passed it to him. When a defender scores, it turns the game around."
The lefty Greenberg flicked home a man-up goal from 20 yards out with 8:26 left in the game off a pass from Lahiff.
"We were a man up and I gave it a go," Greenberg said.
Caden (two ground balls), senior Kyle Mendelson (one ground ball) and sophomore Jake Frimet (one ground ball) also contributed for the Wreckers.
"It gives us confidence and it shows we can play with anyone when we play our best," Ambrose said.
Orban said, "I think it's great that our most difficult games are at the beginning of the season and winning them gives us momentum."