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St. Joseph High boys lacrosse head coach Joe Izzo and his counterpart from East Catholic High, Glen Boggini, has each built strong program’s in their respective schools so it feels preordained that they would meet in the Class S state semifinals.

“Glen is a really good guy and what he is doing up there is great,” said Izzo, whose 10th-seeded Cadets will take on the sixth-seeded Eagles tonight at 5:30 p.m. on the turf field at West Haven High. “They run the open set well and have an outstanding goalie in Brendan Casey.”

Boggini said, “We knew we’d have to go through a St. Joe’s team if we wanted to go far; they are the defending champs and have Mike Braddick (Catholic University) in goal.

“They built things up by playing a great schedule; we look to do the same.”

The teams met on the field the two previous seasons, but CCC commitments didn’t allow the Manchester-based Eagles to add St. Joseph to their slate this season.

“We had more conference games this year,” Boggini said. “Fortunately, we were able to get games in with two of the best teams up this way in Simsbury and Glastonbury.”

Izzo said, “The first year we played them was pretty lopsided here in Trumbull, but the next year we went up there and it was a good game with what I think was a six-goal differential.

“They’ve picked the pace of their game up. They have good athletes and playing Glastonbury (15-8) and Simsbury (12-6) tough says a lot about their program.”

Lacrosse is all about possession and both coaches believe they have the player in place that can be the difference maker.

“Flip (Filippo Petrini) never played the sport coming into high school and now he is a top-five face-off man in the state,” Izzo said of his senior. “He had a great game against Mike Sullivan from Greenwich, a top-two guy in a 9-8 loss in the regular season. Flip is a great player.”

Boggini said, “We’ve run out a lot of good players for face-offs this season. Lucas Niezelski has really emerged come tourney time. He’s an athletic kid.”

Both teams boast a balanced attack.

St. Joseph features Peter Bashar (St. Leo’s), Preston Ouellette (Hampden Sydney College), Kyle Souza (Dominican College), Ryan Scinto (Marymount) and Colin Powell (Endicott for hockey).

Leading the defense are Scinto, Patrick Battista, Christian Colon and Souza.

Izzo said, “Look at our seventeen goals (in a 17-4 win over Somers in the quarterfinals), fifteen came off assists. When you make the extra pass it makes it harder to cover. This is a good offensive bunch willing to share the wealth.”

For East Catholic, Connor Stull leads the attack. Trevor Wilcox, Tom Callahan, Chris Amato and Connor Goldberg are also capable of putting together multiple-point games.

Defensively, the Eagles are led by Luke Townsend (Virginia Wesleyan), Dave DiMartino, Connor Heslin and Tim Carlson.

“The scary thing is we’re not loaded with seniors, we have good seniors, but are loaded with talented juniors,” Boggini said.

“Players are chomping at the bit. The last four years we’ve went from having players playing lacrosse to having lacrosse players.”

Izzo is familiar with that tune.

“Typically we get fourteen kids coming to school with experience,” he said. “It’s a mixed bag from there. The bulk of our players are athletes from other sports that we get interested in lacrosse.”

The end result for both teams finds each one step away from playing for a state championship.