Greenwich High boys lacrosse headed to class L title game

Greenwich High School defender Nick Schepis tries to work the ball away from Ridgefield's WIlliam Boneaparte during Wednesday's CIAC class L semifinal game. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High School defender Nick Schepis tries to work the ball away from Ridgefield’s WIlliam Boneaparte during Wednesday’s CIAC class L semifinal game. — Avery Belicka photo

For the third time this season, the Greenwich High School boys lacrosse team battled Ridgefield High. And for the third time this season, the Cardinals came away with the victory.

However Wednesday night’s 7-5 victory over the Tigers was much sweeter than the previous two. With the win in the CIAC class L semifinals, Big Red will play for the class L championship game for the first time third time in school history.

“This is the first time that I’ve ever been in states and it’s been a great ride so far,” GHS senior defender Cole Perry said. “It’s really exciting. We haven’t been to the finals in a long time, so this is big. We are really excited. It’s hard to beat a team three times, but we had a little motivation. They were talking a little trash, but we were motivated. We are playing the best ball that we have been playing all year.”

The victory means that Greenwich High will look to bring home the state championship for the first time in school history. Back in 2007, Greenwich fell to Fairfield Prep in the championship game, 10-9. Exactly one decade earlier, Greenwich competed in its first-ever championship game but fell to a tough Darien High School 14-8.

“There are a lot of feelings here for me because I know how hard these guys have worked to get to this point,” Greenwich High School head coach Scott Bulkley said. “I know how much they wanted this. When I was a coach at Darien, we got to the championship game a lot. From the moment I became the head coach in Greenwich, I wanted to get this team to the championship game so I can share that experience with them.”

Against Ridgefield, Greenwich was led by the combination of Decker Curran and Luke Finneran, who each finished with two goals. Not to be outdone was Jaime Paradise, Bobby Goggin and Will Perry, who each added one goal.

Ryan Flippin added two assists, while Paradise, Goggin and Sam Saleeby picked up one assist.

Greenwich High School's Decker Curran fires a shot through the Ridgefield defense and to goalie Brendan Winne during Wednesday's CIAC class L semifinal game. — Avery Belicka photo

Greenwich High School’s Decker Curran fires a shot through the Ridgefield defense and to goalie Brendan Winne during Wednesday’s CIAC class L semifinal game. — Avery Belicka photo

In net, Tommy Rogan had another standout performance, finishing with eight saves on the day. While Rogan was on top of his game, the GHS defense, led by Nick Schepis, Jack Harrington, Jack Nail, Alec Oropall and Will Perry gave the Tigers very few open looks at the net.

“Ridgefield and Darien are the two best teams that we’ve played,” Schepis said. “Ridgefield is really talented on offense and their zone defense is really hard to crack. But we had some great coaching and put in a lot of hard work to prepare. We had a great game plan. We typically are a man-to-man defense, but we added a lot of different zones schemes, so we had a different look. We noticed Ridgefield was having a tough time adjusting to that. We wanted to keep Ridgefield on their toes.”

With Greenwich defense locked in, the offense took control early, as Flippin passed to Curran, who unloaded a shot that beat Ridgefield goalie Brendan Rinne for the 1-0 lead. Although Ridgefield knotted the game at 1-1 to end the first quarter, Big Red extended the lead to 3-1 at the break.

Greenwich grabbed the lead when Finneran was in the right place at the right time. He scooped up the groundball in front of Winne and shot the ball in the back of the net. Goggin extended the lead when he took the pass from Paradise and uncorked a shot for the 3-1 lead.

Greenwich’s transition game was a factor in its fourth goal. Once Big Red got possession of the ball deep in its end, they charged quickly to the Ridgefield net. Flippin was darting to the RHS zone and dished the ball to Will Perry, who then buried the shot in the back of the net for the 4-1 lead.

“We felt that in both of the games that we played Ridgefield, we didn’t play a full four quarters,” Bulkley said. “The last time we didn’t play very good defense in the first half. We challenged the defense to play a good four quarters and they did.”

Big Red's Jack Nail uses his defensive skills to keep Ridgefield away from GHS goalie Tommy Rogan during the CIAC class L semis at Jack Casagrande Field. — Avery Belicka photo

Big Red’s Jack Nail uses his defensive skills to keep Ridgefield away from GHS goalie Tommy Rogan during the CIAC class L semis at Jack Casagrande Field. — Avery Belicka photo

With the 8-6 victory in the class L semifinals, Greenwich (19-3  overall) advances to Saturday’s championship game and will see another familiar foe, Staples High School. Game time is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Jack Casagrande Field at Brien McMahon.

“This is an amazing feeling right now,” Schepis said. “Greenwich has never won a state championship, but we also know that Staples ended our season last year, so this is going to be a big game for us. We can’t wait to play on Saturday. We have been saying that we want to end this season in a pile, so that’s what we are trying to do on Saturday.”

Last season in the class L quarterfinals, Greenwich traveled up to Westport to battle the Wreckers. Despite a back-and-forth battle, it was Greenwich that saw its season come to an abrupt end with a 6-5 loss to Staples.

“Staples ended our season last year, so I couldn’t be more excited for Saturday’s game,” Cole Perry said. “It would be the best to beat them and end their season. We want to win the first state title for Greenwich.”

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