Freshman Justin Lisbon comes up big in second half, helps Weston boys lacrosse past St. Joseph

TRUMBULL — It’s not about style points in goal. If he stops shots and can communicate with his field players, it’s a pretty good start.

Justin Lisbon found the communication part last year. He found the former Saturday in the second half of his first varsity boys lacrosse game — his first high school game.

The freshman goalie and an experienced Weston defense shut out St. Joseph for the last 13 minutes at Dalling Field, opening their season with a 17-9 win in a clash of 2021 CIAC champions.

“It was amazing. I have to give it up to my teammates. They played really well,” Lisbon said.

“It’s a great culture. They’re all so welcoming. It’s been so fun.”

There may have been some early nerves, for him and for a lot of people on the field. But he made three of his five saves in the fourth quarter to keep the Cadets (1-2) from so much as a sniff of a comeback.

Lisbon said he was shocked to find out a couple of weeks ago that he’d be the opening-day starter. He’s been playing lacrosse since fifth grade, moving to the goal from midfield because his team didn’t have a goalie.

He watched goalie Andrew Albert and the Trojans win the Class M championship last year as an eighth-grader, and here he was in ninth grade getting the next game in a Weston crease.

“We didn’t expect that he was going to be our starting goalie this season. He just got thrown into the fray,” said junior attackman Will Harris, who scored six goals Saturday. “For him to step up like that — he’s not a big guy, but he’s got the biggest heart of anyone on the field. It’s inspiring to see it happen.”

When the Trojans took the field Saturday, Lisbon probably wasn’t the one you’d pick out as the starting goalie, built like, well, a freshman, coming up to about the chins of the defenders in front of him.

“He just stepped in and won the game against the defending Class S state champions,” Weston coach Josh Thornton said.

“Size I can’t teach, but listen, the kid’s got a big heart. He always wants to get better. ... It’s not football where you have to be a certain size. You can be small, quick, you can be slow with great hands, whatever works for you.”

Weston has a junior goalie, Will Pocsik, who wasn’t available, but Thornton expects him back in a couple of weeks.

St. Joseph tied the game at 3 early in the second quarter but never caught up again. Weston built its lead to 7-4 at halftime as a squall brought sideways rain and a stiff, cold wind from the southwest for the last few minutes of the second quarter on an otherwise gorgeous spring afternoon.

“Two evenly matched teams, a great opportunity here: We thought it’d be a one-, two-goal game the whole time,” Cadets coach Brendan Talbot said, “and credit to Weston, they took it to us. They dominated the faceoff ‘X’ behind junior Sean Esslinger.

“Their goalie found himself in the second half. We had a lot of unforced turnovers. They definitely won the ground-ball war.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Weston junior Will Harris had eight points.

“We knew we could win this game. We just had to put it all together,” he said. “We didn’t play that well in scrimmages; I think we had three goals in two scrimmages. But the offense put it together today.”

INDEFENSIBLE

Weston, last year’s Class M champion, moved to Class S this season because of enrollment figures. St. Joseph, winner of the past three Class S championships, moved to Class M this year because of a new CIAC rule bumping up schools of choice that reach the semifinals two out of three years.

Talbot said this was among the first nonconference games he booked for this season — and that when they agreed to it, they thought they’d both be in Class M.

“We want to play other good teams. I think we’re a pretty good team. They’ve obviously had some success and they’re a very good team themselves,” Talbot said. “These are the kinds of games you want to play at home, get yourself ready for that FCIAC run.”

QUOTABLE

“We graduated a phenomenal senior class, a lot of whom played for several years in some really important roles for us. Early in the year, we’ve got to get some of those younger kids to not just be on the field, but now you’re in that leadership role, you’re in that go-to-guy role. We talk about going from Robin to Batman. Now, we’re calling plays, and now it’s for you.” —St. Joseph coach Brendan Talbot

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp

WESTON 17, ST. JOSEPH 9

WESTON3 4 7 3—17

ST. JOSEPH2 2 5 0— 9

Records: Weston 1-0; St. Joseph 1-2. Scoring: W—Will Harris 6 goals 2 assists, Alexander Nevitt 5g 1a; Sean Esslinger 1g 1a, Rowan Bradshaw-Mack 1g 1a; Nico Bilbao 1g, Renzo Garone 1g, Henry Katz 1g, Hayden Bilfield 1g, Nick Psichopaidas 1a; SJ—James Corry 2g 3a, Josh Newall 3g, Johnny Karafa 1g 2a, Sam Rosa 2g, Sean Callinan 2a, Alex Burbank 1g. Goalies: W—Justin Lisbon (5 saves); SJ—Tyler Stiewing (5). Shots: W—39; SJ—29.