NEW CANAAN — As Staples completed one of its most accomplished boys lacrosse seasons Saturday with what its coach thought was its most complete game, things almost looked like old times a couple of times at the faceoff X.
Even with new rules designed to decide draws more quickly, the No. 4 Wreckers’ Henry Dodge and New Canaan’s Hayden Shin twice battled to extended standoffs.
Dodge came out with the ball both times. The Wreckers came out with most of the possession and most of the goals in a 12-9 win over No. 2 New Canaan at Dunning Stadium.
“I truly don’t know” what happened there, said Dodge, who hadn’t gone through anything like that this season. “We just got caught, and I had to throw all my weight on that ball. (I) just put my head down and went to work on that ball.”
The first of those was the second faceoff of the game, after Staples had opened the scoring. That standoff lasted about 45 seconds.
“He’s amazing. He’s going to Vermont. He’s done everything he’s asked to do,” Wreckers midfielder Derek Sale said about Dodge. “To be the only true FOGO on the team, taking every single draw, it’s difficult. We respect him a lot.”
The second extended faceoff, to open the fourth quarter, went about 25 seconds.
“I feel like those really long ones I won were a huge momentum-changer for our team,” Dodge said. “Scoring goals, our defense firing on all cylinders, it was epic.”
Wreckers goalie J.P. Kosakowski shone once again, making key saves to keep the Rams from getting any closer than two goals.
Staples is 13-3 and may have secured the second seed in the FCIAC tournament behind No. 1 Darien, which was unbeaten in conference play and has lost only to Brunswick in overtime.
The Blue Wave beat Staples 10-7 on April 29. The Wreckers were missing a few players then but might’ve been as healthy on Saturday as they’ve been all year.
“Right now everything is coming together,” Dodge said. “We truly believe we are the No. 1 team in the FCIAC. We believe we are the only team that can run with and beat Darien.”
The CIAC team that has come the closest is New Canaan, which led the Blue Wave late on Thursday before Darien came back to win by a goal. The Rams (10-6) trailed 6-0 that afternoon. They trailed 4-0 Saturday afternoon.
“Dodge is an unbelievable faceoff guy, but we have faith in our guy. We’ll be all right,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said.
“I’m not going to beat up my guys in the press. I believe in them. I love them. We’re going to play three hard games next week and do our best to win a championship. It’s all we can do. We can’t worry about what happened today. We’ve got to look forward.”
Next week is the FCIAC tournament, with quarterfinals Monday, semis on Wednesday and the final on Friday.
Because the teams play imbalanced schedules, the FCIAC uses a points system to determine the eight qualifiers, then has the coaches vote to rank them to set the pairings. That vote was likely to wait until after Saturday night’s Wilton-Fairfield Prep game.
In Saturday’s heat, around 90 degrees, the Wreckers used lots of offensive midfields and got several goals from players going against short-stick middies.
“Every day in practice it’s not just our three middies going through our stuff, or three offensive guys going through our stuff,” said Sale, who was injured in Staples’ 7-3 season-opening win over New Canaan and returned just this week. “We have six guys, seven guys, as middies; four attackmen getting reps all day.
“To see some these guys who might not be starting getting goals and being out there, it’s great just being a family and supporting everybody.”
STAPLES 12, NEW CANAAN 9
STAPLES 4 3 2 3—12
NEW CANAAN 0 4 2 3— 9
Records: Staples 13-3, 8-2 FCIAC; New Canaan 10-6, 8-2. Scoring: S—Aidan Best 3 goals, 1 assist; Derek Sale 3g; Henry Beck 2g; Ryan Thompson 1g, 1a; Charlie Howard 1g, 1a; Leo Sequenzia 1g; Michael Nealon 1g; Tyler Clark 1a; Henry Dodge 1a; NC—Callum Wood 3g, 1a; Chris Canet 3g, 1a; Ryan Caione 2g; Carter Connors 1g; Conor Bailey 1a. Goalies: S—J.P. Kosakowski (11 saves); NC—Holden Busby (8), Michael Rayher (0). Shots: S—34; NC—28.
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