Boys Lacrosse A comeback complete
SHELTON — It took a second-half comeback from a three-goal deficit, a last-second save by goaltender Padraig Colligan to end regulation, and an overtime game-winner by Christopher Cataldo for the Greenwich High boys lacrosse to advance.
The No. 18 seed Cardinals won a 10-9 thriller over host and No. 15 Shelton in Class L state tournament qualifying round action on Saturday morning.
“It would have been nice to win but that’s how the cookie crumbles sometimes,” said Shelton coach Matt Read, adding that the Shelton lacrosse program has certainly come a long way in his decade with the program.
“From when I started 10 years ago to be in a gam with Greenwich is remarkable,” Read said.
The Cardinals earned a trip to No. 2 Fairfield Prep in the first round on Wednesday, at 4:30 p.m.
“The big victory is having to go play Prep now. You have to get back at it and play one of the best teams in the state. It’s going to be a battle. In order to win this we have to play mistake-free lacrosse,” Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz said.
Greenwich jumped out to a 4-1 lead only to see the Gaels reel off six unanswered net-finders for a 7-4 halftime lead.
Tyler Pjatak tied the score when he whipped home a shot to the far side with 4:30 left in the second quarter.
Nick Pavone circled around from behind the net for a go-ahead tally that made it 5-4 with 2:57 to go before the break.
Jared Sedlock and Pjatak scored seven seconds apart for a three-goal lead with 1:17 left in the opening half.
The Gaels’ bid to keep their momentum going out of the gate was shut down in the form of a Colligan save 20 seconds into the third.
Shelton netminder Isaiah DeLoatch came up with several big saves to initially keep Shelton in front, and later to keep things tied. He ended up with 11 denials.
Jack Feda, Greenwich’s go-to scorer, made a move from behind the goal area and scored on an over-the-shoulder shot to make it 7-5 just 1:08 into the second half.
Feda scored again midway through the stanza to make it 7-6. Lance Large evened the score at 7-7 with 4:36 left in the third.
Undeterred, the Gales reclaimed the lead on a Paone tally with 2:36 left in the quarter.
Shelton went up 9-7 when Pjatak fought off a couple of stick checks and scored with 9:52 to go in regulation.
Bryce Metalios scored for the Cards less than two minutes later, and Large tied the game at 9-9 from straight on, during player advantage, with 5:58 showing on the scoreboard clock.
Greenwich threatened to take a late lead but Shelton defender Jack Carr got his stick up high and in front of a rising shot headed for an empty net following a scramble for possession. DeLoatch stopped Feda with 10 seconds left, giving the Gaels a chance to win it in regulation.
Shelton’s Casey Brennan was stopped by Colligan with one second left.
Greenwich kept feeding Feda who had three chances but sent shots just off the mark, early in the four-minute OT.
The Gaels had possession and Pjatak had a clean look from long range, but Colligan denied the shot and sent the ball up field, leading to Cataldo’s game-winner from straightaway, with just 13 seconds left.
“The nice thing about this group is there was no lack of hope or belief we could pull this off,” Lutz said.
The GHS coach credited the Gaels for being a formidable foe.
“They weren’t going to go down without a fight,” Lutz said.
In addition to Fedak’s four goals and an assist, Metalios netted three. Large had two goals and one assist. Owen Gwozdz and Charlie Graves both had two assists for the Cardinals.
Greenwich defenders Tyler Dietrich and Nick Pelletier-Martinelli stepped up in the absence of Jack Ludington, who suffered an injury in practice and couldn’t play. Starting goaltender Teddy Bacon made a trio of saves.
Pjatak had four goals. Pavone had two goals and an assist. Pagluiso had a goal and an assist. Brennan and Sedlock both scored once. Jake Oddo added an assist.
Shelton defenders Carr (five ground ball scoops to lead Shelton), Jake Roberts, Joe Agreda and Billy Zaccagnini all played solidly in the back.
Pjatak and Sedlock took the faceoffs and combined to help the Gaels gain possession with frequency. Pjatak won 75 to 85 percent of his draws, Read said. All told, the Gaels won 14 of 21 faceoffs.
The Gaels will lose 10 players to graduation, including Connor Greene, whom Read describes as the hardest-working midfielder he’s had.
“We’re going to miss the seniors. I’m going to miss them tremendously. They played their hearts out,” Read said.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Greenwich goaltender Padraig Colligan entered in the second half and stopped six of eight shots faced, including a game-saving denial just before time expired to end regulation, and one in overtime.
“The big victory is having to go play Prep now. You have to get back at it and play one of the best teams in the state. It’s going to be a battle. In order to win this we have to play mistake-free lacrosse.”
— Greenwich coach Bobby Lutz.