Boys lacrosse: Another look at St. Joseph's win in semis

Matt Labash looks for room versus Granby Memorial. — David G. Whitham photos
Matt Labash looks for room versus Granby Memorial. — David G. Whitham photos

As lacrosse attackers go, St. Joseph’s Matt Labash isn't very tall, then again, you don't have to be.

Labash, who's 5-foot-6, uses blistering speed and a deadly shot to make defensive units pay.

Both of those skills were on display back when Labash led the Cadets to a 14-7 CIAC Class S semifinal win over Granby Memorial and a trip to last Saturday's finals, where St. Joseph defeated Somers to win the title.

In the semi win, Labash scored six goals to help propel the ninth-seeded Cadets past the fourth-seeded Bears.

St. Joseph, which had posted wins over Old Lyme (12-2) and St. Paul (11-1), gave up three goals to trail with 9:17 still left on the clock in the first quarter.

"If this had been last year, that three would've stayed up there for quite some time, and it might've gotten worse," said St. Joseph coach Brendan Talbot. "We were very young and lacked maturity last year. In fact, we didn't even qualify for the post-season. So, it was easy to see what our incentive was once this year began."

The Cadets then went on a three-goal tear.

Senior Jared Mallozzi got then started, beating Bears' goalie Dan DeGagne with a wrap-around goal. Labash followed with a pair of netfinders, the second coming with 52 seconds left in the quarter.

With the score all even after one, Granby pieced together a pair of scores, the first by Russell Stone and the second from Christian Ward, for a 5-3 lead. Both goals came within a span of 19 seconds (with 7:40 to go and 7:21 remaining).

"I think we were playing a little scared," Labash said. "We knew it was time to get our heads in the game."

It was almost like the Cadets were the sleeping dog that suddenly gets kicked. They not only took care of damage control, they went on a scoring rampage. Eleven consecutive goals later, St. Joseph found itself with a 14-5 lead and 9:48 left in the game.

During that run, Labash scored four times.

"I like to think if I can get by my defender up top, I have a pretty good chance to score," said Labash, who has collected 50 goals this season. "We came into this game knowing very little about Granby. We did know that McMahon (of Norwalk) had beaten them. Playing in the FCIAC with the level of competition that we meet game-in and game-out can tend to give us an advantage."

Granby managed to get the game's final two goals, one from  Andrew Kibby (his second) and the other from Dave Kendall.

Labash's six goals may have led the way, but four other Cadets had two goals apiece, led by Mallozzi (who also had two assists), Preston Kral, Jack Carpenter and Harrison Yoguez.

Granby, which closed out its season with a 15-4 record, out shot St. Joseph 26-23.

Each goalie, DeGagne and the Cadets' Kyle Burbank had six saves apiece.

"When this job opened up three years ago and I already knew that this school likes to play for state championships, it definitely sounded like a good deal to me," said Talbot, who came to the Trumbull school from Western Connecticut State University, where he served as the men's lacrosse teams' defensive coordinator.