Foran's lax season ends with first state tournament
The friendship between Foran High’s varsity boys lacrosse coach Brian Adkins and his counterpart, Marty Morgan at New Fairfield, is an enduring one.
The two have known and competed against each other for close to 20 years, going back to the days when Adkins was with the Branford High program.
So, when the two squared off last week on opposing sidelines when the No. 6 seed Lions hosted the 11th-seeded Rebels in Class M first-round game in Milford, the will to win and the respect was of equal proportions.
Adkins and his team, however, were off no match for the Rebels, who scored seven unanswered goals from near the end of the third quarter and through the fourth for a 16-6 victory.
Foran (11-6), on the strength of a three-goal, third-quarter outburst from senior Zach White, drew to within three, at 9-6, before the scoring barrage by New Fairfield.
“We did get back in this game,” Adkins said. “And, we may have been a shot or two away from making it even closer. But their goalie (Christian Benzing) came up with that big save (on a shot from Drew Perani) and you could see it get turned around from there.”
Benzing thwarted several attacks by the Lions. He came up with nine saves, many of them on low shots.
Foran jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 5:21 of the opening quarter as Perani, the team’s season-long scoring leader, recovered a ground ball behind the Rebels’ net and beat Benzing from in close.
Goals by New Fairfield junior attacker Ryan Lewis, his first of three, one from Liam Rattigan, along with net finders by James Lewis and Sam LaCour allowed the visitors to secure a three-goal cushion, at 4-1, after one quarter.
“I thought we started out a little bit slow, Morgan said. “We were sloppy; we weren’t either getting to ground balls or the net. We needed to use our stick skills and our speed which we have lots of.
“I have the upmost respect for Brian and his team. In two years of varsity play, he’s taken his program into the tournament. We knew this wasn’t going to be easy and they kept it close until late in the third quarter.”
New Fairfield (10-8) held a commanding 12-2 margin in shots over the opening 12 minutes.
James Lewis made it a 5-1 game at 10:50 of the second quarter, before Foran’s Jonathan DePascale’s goal at 8:05.
But the Rebels went on the march, getting scores from Lewis and an unassisted goal from Steve Conrad to push their lead to 7-2 at halftime.
Trailing by five goals, White got his team back in the game.
Using pin-point passes from Will Vitelli (three assists), White scored three goals in the first six-plus minutes of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 9-6.
“Like all other really good athletes, Zach has that will to turn a game around,” Adkins said. “I’ve personally enjoyed watching him play for three years.”
White’s efforts, though, weren’t enough.
“We might’ve been the favorite today because we were a higher seed,” Adkins said. “But they played a little better regular-season schedule than we did.
“I’ve got to applaud these kids, however. Our seniors laid the groundwork for what we come in the future with the program at this school. It’s only going to get better.”
In addition to White, Perani and DePascale, Alex Eager scored Foran’s other goal. Paul Mirmina added an assist and goalie Josh Teller made 12 saves.
New Fairfield accounted for 45 shots compared to 28 for Foran
The Rebels lost to third-seeded New Canaan, 16-1, in the second round.