Glastonbury High School senior Brady Stone is pursed by Avon’s Ryan St. Onge last Tuesday at GHS during the Guardians 9-4 win in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
Glastonbury High School boys lacrosse advanced to a second straight conference championship, defeating Avon 9-4 in the semifinals of Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) Central tournament at GHS on May 23.
In what turned out to be an highly-emotional game, the Guardians outlast the visiting Falcons behind three goals apiece from Parker Wallace and Braeden Saunders.
“We just had to do what we know and do what we do best, and play as a team,” said Wallace, who broke a tie in the first half with a miraculous goal.
With the game knotted 2-2 midway through the second quarter, Wallace fired a shot from straight away which ricocheted off the crossbar and deflected high into the air before bouncing in front of the goal and back spinning into the net.
“I saw it go straight up and prayed it went in,” a smiling Wallace recalled.
Wallace’s tie-breaker proved to be a huge confidence boost as the Guardians maintained the lead the rest of the way.
Head coach Scott Hinchey said it took a while for his team to adjust to Avon’s ball control offense and credited opposing goalie Tyler Gresh for keeping the game close.
“We thrive when we play fast and we get the ball going and create transition, and we weren’t really doing that in the first half,” added Hinchey. “We did a better job getting our transition game going a little bit in the second half.”
Glastonbury came out of the halftime break with a more aggressive approach, scoring a pair of goals within the first four minutes of the third quarter to take a 5-2 lead.
At the 10:10 mark of the third, Saunders found the back of the net thanks to terrific ball movement from the Guardians. Liam Doyle found a cutting Lucas Lavery, who quickly flipped it to Saunders for a point blank shot to double Glastonbury’s lead.
Less than two minutes later, Doyle netted a goal after getting an assist from Michael Carroll.
After Avon’s Jack Magel cut the deficit to 5-3, Wallace put the game out of reach with two straight goals, scoring off a deflection and then netting a highlight-reel goal when he got a feed from Doyle before spinning in the air and flipping the ball into the net.
“Parker always hustles and always gets his nose dirty,” Hinchey said of his senior leader. “He made a couple of plays and made a big impact.”
Wallace said the team leaned on the experience from the first time they played Avon in the regular season, an 8-4 road victory on April 20.
“It was a close game the first time, but we knew we could play better and come out on top again. We just had to play as a team,” said Wallace.
Saunders scored his third with 7:48 to play in regulation when he caught a pass near midfield, split a pair of defenders and then finished by faking high and firing a shot into the bottom left corner of the net.
Saunders, a junior who is the team-leader in points this spring, also scored the first goal of the game when he scooped up a loose ball in front of the goal and backhanded into the net.
“He had a great offseason, and he’s stepped up on attack and made a lot of great plays this year,” Hinchey said of Saunders. “He’s had a lot of goals that change the tide, and he did that again today.”
After allowing a pair of goals within the first 16 minutes of the game, the Guardians defense was stout the rest of the way, only allowing two more goals over the final 32 minutes.
Senior Drew Hazard manned the net for the first three quarters and junior Cayden Infantino played the fourth, combining for 11 saves.
Things were chippy between the two conference rivals throughout the game, particularly in the second half.
The teams combined for 14 penalties, nine of them from Avon.
Wallace said it felt like a state tournament game and added that the intense play is a good thing at this point in the season, adding,
“They help prepare us. It’s nice to have these games before state because it locks us in.”
Hinchey agreed with Wallace, crediting is team for maintaining their composure and responding through their play in the second half.
“[Avon] is a well-coached team and we needed that,” added Hinchey. “It’s good to have these playoff-style games this time of the year.”
Two nights later, the Guardians fell short of a second straight conference title when they fell to Simsbury at Conard High School.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin