St. Joseph tops East Catholic in historic boys lacrosse final

St. Joseph celebrates winning third straight Class S state title.

St. Joseph celebrates winning third straight Class S state title.

Michael Fornabaio / Hearst Connecticut Media

His team won its third straight CIAC Class S boys lacrosse championship Saturday morning at McDougall Stadium, and Brendan Talbot was dreading leaving to head back across town to St. Joseph.

“It’s going to be a sad bus ride back,” Cadets coach Talbot said after a 13-9 win over East Catholic, “knowing that it’s the last time they’re going to get off the bus.”

This senior class never lost a playoff game. It won the 2018 and 2019 Class S titles. And Talbot said the 2020 team that lost its season to the COVID-19 pandemic might’ve been the best of the four.

St. Joseph (12-8) became the first boys lacrosse team to win a CIAC championship with a losing regular-season record. The Cadets were 7-8 before winning five playoff games, including a classic 8-7 win over top-seeded New Fairfield in the first round. The only other 17th seed to win a championship was Wilton in Class M in 2013.

“We had a few heartbreakers, a few we only lost by a couple that if we went back, we wish we could’ve pulled out,” said senior Eric Burbank, who scored three goals in the first half as the Cadets built a 9-3 lead.

“I think we learned a lot from those losses. They got us ready for these games. I wouldn’t change anything. We don’t really want to.”

This was St. Joseph’s seventh Class S title in 10 final appearances.

Seventh-seeded East Catholic, making its first appearance in a final after reaching five of the previous six semifinals, finished 14-6.

Ryan Daly scored four goals for St. Joseph, including three in a row in the second quarter, as St. Joseph forced turnover after turnover on East Catholic clear attempts.

“We rode really hard in that first half. We wanted to get that and get on our attack about riding, getting the ball back,” Talbot said. “That was definitely a difference in the first half. We had a lot of possession.”

Preston Kral had two goals and two assists. Johnny Karafa had two goals and an assist. Burback added two assists. Joshua Newall had a goal and an assist. Matt Carpenter scored a goal. James Corry had an assist.

The Cadets split the net between Josh Gottschalk and Max Kimmel, and Kimmel made five stops in the fourth quarter as the Eagles fired 16 shots.

“Neither one got beat out for the position,” Talbot said.

“They took us all the way home. It got a little tight in the second half, but Max made some big saves.”

They’re two of those seniors Talbot was dreading to watch get off the bus.