Boys lacrosse: St. Joseph defeats Somers to win Class S

St Joseph’s boys lacrosse team turned a one-possession battle into a five-goal lead with a flurry of third-quarter scoring en route to winning the Class S state championship 11-6 over familiar foe Somers High at Brien McMahon High in Norwalk on Saturday.

Jared Mallozzi scored four goals and Matt Labash had three net-finders to go along with an assist, as coach Brendan Talbot’s ninth-seeded Cadets (13-5) dethroned the two-time champion Spartans and avenged a 2016 title-game loss to No. 2 seed Somers (17-3) in the process.

The triumph was a year in the making following a tough 2017 slate.

“Last year we didn’t qualify for the state playoffs. We played a grueling schedule, we had three seniors and we had a lot of growing pains,” said Talbot, who added that hard work was put in during the offseason by a hungry Cadet squad. “We wanted to end out season throwing our stuff in the air.”

And as the final seconds ticked away on the scoreboard clock, gloves, sticks and helmets went flying and players on the sideline stormed the field to join their jubilant teammates.

“It feels amazing. It’s redemption from two years ago,” said Jack Carpenter, who scored twice. “We just came out with a ton energy and a ton of heart and we wanted this more than anything.”

Cole daSilva and Dan Tobin also scored for the Cadets. Declan McGinley had two assists and Preston Kral added a helper.

Faceoff specialist Nick Macisco won 12 of 20 draws and came up with a game-best seven ground ball scoops.

Tobin had six ground balls. Labash had four ground balls and Brandon Zimnoch, Harrison Yoguez, Jack Fearnley and Kral all had three.

Goaltender Kyle Burbank made 14 saves, including six in the first period, after which the Cadets had a 3-0 lead. Burbank came up with timely stops to thwart any chance of Somers building momentum throughout the game.

It was 5-3 at the half. Somers scored first in the third quarter.

The Cadets responded with the next four tallies, as Mallozzi scored twice in succession, set up on a pass by Labash for a 7-4 lead.

daSilva and Carpenter added to the lead, with both goals set up by McGinley.

Carpenter scored with only one second remaining in the period and the Cadets carried a 9-4 advantage into the fourth.

“Our faceoff guy Nick Macisco did a a good job there. He got a lot of possessions,” Talbot said of the third quarter run. We had to play our ‘A’ game and we did.”

The teams traded goals in the fourth, with Labash twice quickly answering Somers tallies.

St Joe’s got strong defensive play from its entire unit, led by the efforts of Phil Pasmeg (two ground balls), Zimnoch, Bryan Viglione (two ground balls) and Fearnley.

“The defense has been our backbone all year,” Talbot said.

Between the two schools — St Joe’s and Somers — one or both of them have reached the Class S championship game each year dating back to 2009.

St Joe’s has five titles and a trio of runner-up finishes in that time.

Somers has two title and two runner-up finishes.

Somers went 14-2 in the regular season.

“They’re a phenomenal program,” Talbot said.

During the regular campaign, St Joe’s went 9-5 in the challenging FCIAC, which also boasts Class L champ Ridgefield and Class L runner-up Staples of Westport.

A state championship may be a familiar thing for the coaches and seniors in the St Joseph program, which last won a championship in 2015, but this year’s was a first-time success story for the rest of the group.

“It feels great. We worked all offseason for this,” Burbank said. “To finally make it here on top of the mountain is amazing.”