Hatton, 'Legion of Doom,' rescue Jesuits against Staples
Little was going right at the faceoff X for Fairfield Prep's lacrosse team in Saturday's Division L state final. Jesuits coach Chris Smalkais went back to an old option: He assembled the "Legion of Doom."
The revamped faceoff alignment helped the Jesuits dominate the second half, scoring nine of the last 10 goals in their 14-8 win over Staples at Brien McMahon's Casagrande Field.
"Our guys executed our plan, to keep it in (the offensive) end of the field," Staples coach Paul McNulty said. "They kept winning faceoffs. That setup, putting all their poles up there -- we knew it was coming, but they're very good at it."
The "poles," long-stick players, gave them more reach for ground balls and gave Andrew Hatton, who moved to the X in the second half, more leverage.
Smalkais recalled using the three-pole scheme in the 2007 championship game against Greenwich; trailing 7-3, the Jesuits scored seven goals in a row and won 10-9.
"We've used it four or five times," Smalkais said. "It gave the team energy."
Troy Foreit had been a mainstay for the Jesuits on draws. In the regular season, he held Wilton standout Ted Ottens to a standoff. Ottens' dominance at the X on Saturday was a big part of the Warriors' win over Barlow in the Division M state final.
But Staples' Jared Levi did the same to the Jesuits in the first 30 minutes Saturday. The Wreckers used that possession time, were patient, found openings and built an 8-5 lead.
"They picked up about half the balls, if not more," Hatton said, a Westporter.
The "Legion of Doom" nickname -- Smalkais, from Canada, is a hockey diehard -- came from the Philadelphia Flyers' top line from the mid-1990s, Eric Lindros centering John LeClair and Mikael Renberg, three big bodies able to punish opposing defensemen.
Those Flyers never won a Stanley Cup, but the Jesuits have six Division L titles, including the past two, and two runner-up finishes in the past eight years. They were 17-0 against Connecticut competition this year.
"My coach put me in that position against Delbarton (N.J.) midway through the season (9-5 loss) and it went relatively well," Hatton said. "Basically my only job is to scrap and try to compete to get the ball. So I did that."