Foran Lion laxmen open with nailbiter

Foran High kept closing in on a victory, but North Branford found a way to hold off the Lions and win a 10-9 decision at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex in Milford on April 9.

“It was a good game,” Foran head coach Brian Adkins said. “It was our first game and we need to clean some things up. We were down four in the third quarter and cut it to one.”

North Branford, which had split its first two games, took full advantage of a Foran penalty to build up a lead.

“A three-minute non-releasable penalty gave them three goals (in that span),” Adkins said. Credit North Branford. (Coach) Dave Carpenter does a great job and they have outstanding players on attack.”

The T-Birds’ Nik Allain scored three goals, and Nico Sommo, Brian McKee and Jack Myers had two goals each.

Foran answered with a scoring trio of its own, as Lance DiNatale scored four goals, Bobby McGinnis three and Jake Lambert two.

Teeing it up for the Lions’ offense was Steve Lynch, who had five assists.

Foran’s Austin Jennings had eight saves in his varsity debut.

Starting the game in front of Jennings were Kevin O’Connor, Nick Popei (six ground balls) and Doug McLenithan. Ryan Manning, Rich Breault, Mike Sciuto and Steven Soerensen matched up with the visitors at midfield.

Luke Gibbs, McGinnis and Lambert stayed in the offensive zone, with DiNatale taking the center draws.

Trailing 8-5 with 6:47 remaining in the third period, DiNatale fired high past T-Bird goalie Noah Taylor (nine saves) and McGinnis brought the score to 8-7 at the 3:43 mark.

Taylor stopped DiNatale, but Sciuto earned a groundball and led the Lions back down field before a crease violation gave possession back to NB and it scored with only 11.7 seconds remaining to take a 9-7 lead into the final frame.

Gibbs was stopped by Taylor, but Jennings had two deflections on tough chances.

McLenithan blocked another shot while being driven back to give Foran the ball.

Lambert took a pass from DiNatale, made a great move in close, and scored at 9:46 to make it 9-8.

Jennings was at his best in the next two  minutes, stopping two shots by Allain, once after the junior found an alley and came in free.

Another shot was deflected, but Sommo was there to pick it up and score. The T-Birds now led 10-8 with 3:05 on the clock.

McGinnis fought his way through some tight defense to make it a one-goal game at the 2:17 mark.

DiNatale won the draw but his bouncer was stopped by Taylor, who started a fast transition play that found O’Connor stopping the rush.

Lynch (eight ground balls) won a scrum in front of the Lions’ net with 41 seconds left, but his shot on net was deflected wide and North Branford ran out the clock.

“We always hope to get to nine (goals scored) and we got to nine,” Adkins said. “We want to hold teams to eight goals or less and didn’t do that today. I thought we shot the ball well and Austin Jennings did a nice job in his first varsity start.”

Foran will host Wilbur Cross today at 4:30 and visit Notre Dame of Fairfield Saturday at 1 p.m.