— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) May 28, 2021
NEW MILFORD — When replacing almost everyone after a forced year off, it helps if one reason for the “almost” was an integral piece of two state and two conference champions.
Matt Constantinides was named MVP of the SWC boys lacrosse final, a 16-3 win for New Fairfield over Weston. Like in his freshman and sophomore seasons, he was a force at the faceoff X. Unlike his other two years, he scored five goals and added four assists in the last SWC game of his senior year.
“I thought faceoff was going to be the difference,” said New Fairfield coach Marty Morgan, whose team played some close games with Newtown and Barlow late in the regular season. “Matt, he won faceoffs, he scored goals, he assisted goals. He did it all. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
“He’s a pleasure,” Morgan added. “It’s really rewarding to see these guys — all the guys that were here (were gone), and these guys were the unknowns. They were able to step up and do it.”
Eight players had at least a point for the top-seeded Rebels (17-0), ranked eighth in the GameTimeCT poll. They have not lost a game to a team from Connecticut since the 2017 Class M semifinals, 57 games ago. They haven’t lost to anyone in 37 games.
And it has been 49 games against SWC opponents since one of them beat the Rebels, winners of the past four SWC tournaments. (The 2020 season was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
“It’s honestly crazy. A lot of these sophomores don’t understand how crazy it is,” Constantinides said, “but they’re coming into a culture we created here, that the upperclassmen have created for us. I wouldn’t rather play for any other school in the country.”
No. 10 Weston (13-4), the second seed, cut an early 2-0 New Fairfield lead in half on Jacob Strouch’s left-handed rip from the left side midway through the first quarter, and Andrew Albert had five of his nine saves in the first 10 minutes. But after New Fairfield senior defender Zack Diehl forced a turnover, Constantinides scored twice and added an assist before the quarter was over.
It was 11-1 at halftime, 13-2 after three. Weston’s third goal came just before the final buzzer.
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) May 28, 2021
“We lost so many starters from that 2019 team. A lot of people doubted us,” Diehl said. “We came together. We showed everyone we’ve still got numbers and we can still win, and I couldn’t be prouder of the guys.”
Weston coach Josh Thornton said a few times postgame that he took the blame for how the Trojans came out.
“It’s another year we’re looking at them taking home the hardware,” Thornton said. The Trojans were SWC and Class M runners-up to New Fairfield in 2019. “It’s on me. I didn’t have them prepared.”
New Fairfield has only a half-dozen seniors on the roster. The team still makes mistakes, Morgan said, and he brought a couple of seniors to the sidelines to talk about them early on.
But things came together and then some Thursday, and the Rebels have the banner to prove it.
“Everyone has developed a ton,” Constantinides said. “Creating friendships with these underclassmen, bonding, we’re definitely hitting our stride very nicely right now going into states.”
TOURNEY TIME II
The CIAC seeds purely on winning percentage, so as it happens, the Class S first round could feature a pretty good state final. New Fairfield is the top seed, winner of Class M in 2018 and 2019. The 17th seed is the 2018 and 2019 Class S champion, St. Joseph, which has to play a preliminary-round game Friday at Stonington to set up the dream-slash-nightmare matchup.
Weston’s opponent in the first round of the CIAC Class M tournament could be familiar: Pomperaug visits E.O. Smith in the preliminary round. The Trojans beat Pomperaug in the regular season and again in the SWC quarterfinals.
With New Fairfield’s victory in SWC Division I in 2017 and overall league championships in 2018 and 2019, the Rebels are the first school to win four consecutive SWC titles, albeit with a gap in 2020. New Fairfield has matched Newtown with six overall or Division I SWC championships; the Rebels also have a seventh, 2004 Division II.
The league played two divisional tournaments in 2004 and 2005, then again 2012-17. Barlow is the only other to win an SWC title three years in a row, 2004-06.
“I’m so proud of these guys. I’ve said to them many times, all these games you’ve won, you’ve won nothing to show for it. This is a game you get a chance to have something on the wall, something you’ll remember forever.” —New Fairfield coach Marty Morgan
NEW FAIRFIELD 16, WESTON 3
WESTON 1 0 1 1—3
NEW FAIRFIELD 5 6 2 3—16
Records: Weston 13-4; New Fairfield 17-0. Scoring: W—Jacob Strouch 1 goal, 1 assist; Grayson Moniz 1g; Will Harris 1g; NF—Matt Constantinides 5g, 4a; Thomas Leary 4g, 1a; Jevan Tenaglia 3g, 1a; Nate Alviti 2g, 1a; Jason Caswell 2a; Toby Berry 2a; Brendan Kuczma 1g; Aidan Palancia 1g. Goalies: W—Andrew Albert (9 saves); NF—Cole Zering (6). Shots: W—19; NF—36.
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