WEST HAVEN — When Fairfield Prep’s Marco Firmender flipped a shot over his shoulder and into the cage just milliseconds before the first quarter buzzer, Hand goaltender Ryan Bordiere could only chuckle to himself.
“I’m not going to lie,” the senior said. “(Firmender) put one of the best goals I’ve ever seen in. I was laughing when it went went in.”
At the time, Firmender’s score seemed to signify yet another Fairfield Prep runaway for yet another SCC Division I boys lacrosse title. But Bordiere said he vowed to stop anything else that came his way.
Bordiere just about did with a brilliant, 16-save performance. But Fairfield Prep had done enough damage to eke out an eventual 8-5 victory Thursday night at Ken Strong Stadium.
“We knew they were a good team and you can’t get down against a team like this,” Bordiere said. “We have a lot of respect for them.”
The title was Fairfield Prep’s fifth straight and 16th overall and, with such a young starring lineup, the SCC Division I trophy could be stuck in Fairfield for the foreseeable future.
— Sean Patrick Bowley (@SPBowley) May 27, 2021
Sophomores Maddux Little and Firmender and Time Shannehan, a freshman, scored two goals apiece for the 14-4 champions.
“They’re not freshmen and sophomores anymore,” coach Graham Niemi, who won his fourth SCC title since becoming coach.
“But championship games are tough. Both teams want to win. This is the third time we’ve played them (all Prep wins) and our 18th game in 45 days. I’m mentally tired and the kids are mentally tired, especially the young ones. I told the seniors at breakfast today — you’re going to have to win this for us and I think they did.”
Goaltender Sammy Cargill, named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, made 12 saves to keep Fairfield Prep out of true danger. Senior defenseman Mason Whitney — named the SCC Division I player of the year — led a defense that pitched a first-half shut out.
Prep led 5-0 at halftime, 6-0 early in the third quarter. But Hand scored three-straight goals to get within 6-3 after three quarters and ultimately outscored Prep 5-2 in the second half.
But Cargill made a handful of key saves to keep the Tigers’ momentum in check.
“Their goalie made a lot of saves and bailed them out at times,” Niemi said. “Our goalie made a lot of saves, too. Sometimes it comes down to groundballs and clearing.
“We had a couple of failed clears and didn’t get to a few groundballs and, all of a sudden, it’s not as tight a game as you thought it would be.”
Hand eventually got within 7-5 with 55 seconds remaining. But Prep won possession and Firmender scored his second to cap another league title — the first in two years due to the cancelation of last season.
“It was a bit of motivation for us to win this game because we didn’t get to play last year,” Whitney said. “It’s really an incredible opportunity for us to have. You saw the crowd react today. It was pretty incredible to be here.”
Kevin Sonder scored two goals and Sam Sisk had two assists for the Tigers, who fell to 11-5 heading into the Class M tournament. “We fought back and I’m really proud of the kids for that,” coach John Orlando said.
FAIRFIELD PREP 8, HAND 5
HAND 0 0 3 2 — 5
FAIRFIELD PREP 4 1 1 2 — 8
Goals: H–Kevin Sonder 2, Ryan Collins, Tatum Fitzmaurice, Robby Swank; FP–Maddux Little 2, Tim Shannehan 2, Marco Firmender 2, Aidan Derby, Patten Royal. Assists: H–Sam Sisk 2, Collins, Fitzmaurice. FP–Derby 2, Shannehan 2, Firmender. Shots: H–22; FP 37; Saves: H–Ryan Bordiere 16; FP–Sammy Cargill 12. Faceoffs won: H–6; FP-6
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