Greenwich boys lax exacts revenge on Wreckers with 5-3 win

Greenwich High's Luke Finneran looks to get around his Staples opponent during Tuesday afternoon's game. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High’s Luke Finneran looks to get around his Staples opponent during Tuesday afternoon’s game. — Avery Belicka photo

While it wasn’t the prettiest game of the season for the Greenwich High School boys lacrosse team, they were still able to lose the bitter taste of last season’s finale, beating Staples High School 5-3.

Last season, the Cardinals traveled to Westport to battle the Wreckers in the CIAC class L quarterfinals, but it was the No. 3 seeded Wreckers that held on for the heartbreaking 6-5 victory that ended Big Red’s season.

This time around, Greenwich came out early and never looked back, scoring a goal midway through the first and never trailed. Although it got close, Greenwich scored a late goal by Decker Curran to ice the game and give Big Red the win.

Greenwich High goalie Tommy Rogan starts Big Red's transition game during Tuesday's game against Staples High. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High goalie Tommy Rogan starts Big Red’s transition game during Tuesday’s game against Staples High. — Avery Belicka photo

“Today was a big game for us,” Greenwich defender Nick Schepis said. “Staples knocked us out last year and that game really upset us. We talked about really wanting to beat them last year a lot yesterday. It was a lot of motivation for us today.”

With revenge on their minds, Greenwich High battled through rains, the questionable playing surface for lacrosse at Wakeman Field and getting to the venue at 4:55 p.m. for a 4:45 start. Despite the obstacles, Greenwich held tough.

“This was a very big win,” GHS goalie Tommy Rogan said. “We got to the field late, had a 15-minute warm-up and the sidelines were messed up, but we played through it.”

Decker Curran, who not only finished with three of the team’s five goals, but also did it with the flu and a 100-degree fever, led Greenwich. Kyle Foote and Will Perry scored Big Red’s other goals.

“I told my guys that we didn’t play well today, but when you don’t play well and still win a game, you have to be happy,” Greenwich High School head coach Scott Bulkley said. “We got a little jammed up getting here and then we didn’t start well. There was no scoreboard, so they couldn’t tell what time it was. We ran out of bounds three or four times because we couldn’t see the sidelines. It gets frustrating.”

After several turnovers, and the inability to score on a man-up early on, Greenwich was finally able to get on the scoreboard.

After Staples held on to possession for over a minute, a turnover gave Greenwich the ball and the capitalized, as Curran snuck through the Staples’ defense and fired a shot the ended up in the back of the net with 5:27 left in the first.

After Staples came back 1:26 later to knot the score at 1-1, the Cards reclaimed the lead with 1:34 to play, as Curren once again got possession of the ball in front of the net and blasted the shot that landed in the top left corner of the net for the 2-1 advantage.

Although Greenwich scored the first goal of the game, it didn’t come easy, as Bulkley said his squad was a little sluggish coming out of the gate.

“When things don’t fall, we probably started worrying about things that we shouldn’t have,” Bulkley said. “We didn’t get into rhythm, but luckily our defense and Tommy Rogan played really well. I think we are better than what we showed today.”

Greenwich built its 4-2 lead at the break with goals by Foote and Perry, but the offense wasn’t able to break through. Good thing for the Cards its defense was light’s out, especially in the second half.

“We’ve been stressing communication on defense and I think we did that well,” Schepis said. “We made good effort on the clears. It was a little sloppy, but we got the job done. Our average is giving up four goals and we wanted to keep that low. We had a lot of great saves from Tommy Rogan. He played great.”

For Rogan, having the defense playing solid throughout most of the game was a great confidence builder.

“Our defense has been so big,” said Rogan, who finished with 12 saves and had seven of them in the third quarter. “Every game they come out the same and play hard. They are the best six men in front of me. They are the best in the state right now. After a couple of shots and especially after a big save, I got into a groove. I knew that shot after shot I needed to save them all.”

With Rogan playing stellar and the GHS defense holding Staples at bay, the offense came through with 6:21 to play in the game, as Curren gained possession of the ball, darted down the field and unloaded a sidearm shot from 15 yards out that eluded the Staples’ goalie for the 5-3 lead.

“Our offense just needed to step up and place one or two big ones,” Rogan said. “Decker place that one in the end and got our team all fired up. We were all celebrating. We got all fired up over that goal.”

The Cardinals finished with 17 shots on goal and added 11 groundballs. Staples finished with 34 shots on net and grabbed 14 groundballs. With the victory Greenwich upped its record to 6-0 overall while Staples netted its first loss of the season and fell to 5-1.

On Thursday afternoon, the Greenwich revenge tour continues, as the Cards roll into Fairfield for a key game against rivals and defending class L champions Fairfield Prep. To say there’s no love loss between the schools is an understatement.

“We have to have a hard practice on Wednesday and get prepared for them,” Schepis said. “They have a lot of talented players and it’s a big rivalry. I remember my sophomore year they beat us really badly in the first round of states. We definitely want revenge on them.”

“It’s our seventh game and we have a rivalry with them, but we still need to work on stuff for us,” Bulkley said. “It’s not about who we play, but what we do as a team. Today our offense didn’t execute the way we needed it to, so we need to go back and make sure we are all on the same page there. Defensively we played well.”

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