Staples boys lacrosse hitting its stride as postseason nears
Coach Paul McNulty and the rest of the Staples High boys lacrosse program aspire to be among the FCIAC's top teams.
With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Wreckers are doing all they can to meet their lofty expectations. At 9-3 overall, including 6-3 in conference, they're maintaining pace with a few perennial powers as the postseason nears.
On Tuesday at home, the Wreckers did what skilled teams are supposed to do: They took care of business against a sub.-500 opponent, crushing Stamford 14-1.
It was the fourth straight win and sixth in the last seven games for a team that's clicking on all cylinders offensively.
"At the beginning of the year, we were testing the waters. But I think we're really starting to click now," said attack Colin Bannon, who led Staples with three goals and four assists on Tuesday. "Everyone's found their spot and their roles."
Staples, which netted nine goals in the first half and 13 through three quarters on Tuesday, has averaged 11 goals in its last six wins. Against Stamford (5-7, 4-4 FCIAC), eight different players scored. Jon Pacilio, Will Johnson, Joey Zelkowitz and Greg Strauss each recorded two goals.
Both Bannon and McNulty attributed the offense's recent success to improved ball movement.
"They are moving the ball very well to get those assists," McNulty said, "and they're taking advantage of dodging opportunities. Everyone tries to achieve that."
Staples jumped out to a 7-0 lead against Stamford with 4:36 left in the first half on Tuesday, slamming the door on any hopes the Black Knights had. McNulty was pleased to see the Wreckers put their opponent away like the top teams always do.
"Those top-end teams, it's just like the same result," McNulty said. "That's what we want. We want to be up there with the top-end teams."
Leading 9-1 after two quarters, the Wreckers extended their lead in the third. Zelkowitz netted his second goal with 9:03 remaining to make it 10-1, then Strauss scored just 54 seconds later to increase the lead to 10.
Making just his second start of the season, James Hines stopped six shots in goal to get the win.
"Everyone played well, everyone did their part," said Bannon after the Wreckers posted a commanding 37-10 edge in shots.
The win also marked the Wreckers' third in a row over an FCIAC team, dating back to a 9-5 victory over St. Joseph on April 27. During their recent win streak, the Wreckers also topped Mamaroneck, N.Y. 11-5 on the road on May 4.
"The games we saw him, he was probably (scoring) four or five goals," McNulty said of Conley. "That was a big difference in the game."
The Wreckers will play at another New York opponent on Saturday, St. John The Baptist in West Islip, but have a test before then. On Thursday, the Wreckers host FCIAC-counterpart Brien McMahon (6-6, 4-4) in a game that will impact their playoff seeding.
McNulty is eager for the opportunity.
"We're just where we want to be," the coach said, "in a big game at the end of the season that leads directly to moving up a position in seeding for the FCIAC."
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STAPLES 14, STAMFORD 1
STAMFORD 0 1 0 0 -- 1
STAPLES 3 6 4 1 -- 14
Records: Staples 9-3, 6-3 FCIAC; Stamford 5-7, 4-4.
Highlights: Stm -- Tamarie Sterling (1g), Kaden Bouldin (1a); Stp -- Colin Bannon (3g, 4a), Jon Pacilio (2g), Will Johnson (2g), Joey Zelkowitz (2g), Greg Strauss (2g), Jared Levi (1g), Jack Greenwald (1g), Michael Reale (1g). Goalies: Stm -- Devin Camlin (9 saves), Nicholas Smart (1); Stp -- James Hines (6). Shots: Stm -- 10; Stp -- 37.