FAIRFIELD -- On one of the first humid days of spring, with two of the Northeast's premier lacrosse programs at Lessing Field, Fairfield Prep coach Chris Smalkais thought this had the feel of a playoff game Saturday.
The Jesuits and Chaminade of Mineola, N.Y., played a good one, but the Jesuits made a few mistakes and gave up a late lead, falling 12-11.
"It usually just comes down to hustle, ground balls, the fundamentals we work on," Prep goalie Jack O'Connor said. "That's what wins games."
Along the way, there were turnovers after big O'Connor saves (13 stops in all). There were players knocked out of bounds, inopportune giveaways, one play called offsides and another that wasn't but looked perilously close.
"Mental errors," Smalkais said. "We're competing really hard. There's no doubt about the effort. We're making mental errors that are allowing other teams to stay in the game or come back from deficits."
The Jesuits led 4-1, 5-2, 6-4, 10-8, 11-9, and then 11-10 after a back-and-forth third quarter.
Neither team managed a goal for over eight minutes in the fourth until the Flyers' Tom O'Connell scored, moving right to left about 20 yards out, with 3:29 left.
A violation on the faceoff gave Chaminade the ball. Sam Bonafede picked it up, raced ahead and scored five seconds later, the Princeton-bound midfielder's fourth goal of the second half, to give the Flyers the lead.
Chaminade's Rob Speranza made two defensive plays on Austin Sims in the last minute and a half (a hold was called after the first, giving Fairfield Prep the ball back) to prevent the Jesuits from taking a last shot.
The game had that playoff tension -- Chaminade inadvertently built the suspense by getting caught in Interstate 95 traffic, delaying the game 30 minutes from the hoped-for 1 p.m. start -- but the Jesuits understand those kinds of mistakes can cost them in the playoffs.
"The same thing happened against St. Anthony's," Smalkais said; the Jesuits lost in overtime Monday on Long Island. "Three or four mental errors. We go offside when we shouldn't. We're not defending properly individually."
O'Connor bailed out some of those defensive miscues. He made at least three saves in all four quarters, some from right around the net.
"He's been great," Smalkais said. "When he leaves, he'll be considered one of the top guys we've had."
Fairfield Prep fell to 7-4, though the four losses are all to teams from out of state.
The Flyers (10-3) had lost three out of four coming in, but those three were New York powers Yorktown and St. Anthony's, along with Greenwich, which is the biggest win yet on Fairfield Prep's schedule. The Jesuits have Amity, North Haven and New Canaan in the week to come.
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CHAMINADE (N.Y.) 2 4 4 2--12
FAIRFIELD PREP 4 2 5 0--11
Records: Chaminade 10-3; Fairfield Prep 7-4. Scoring: C--Sam Bonafede 4g; Carney Mahan 3g, 1a; James Roberts 1g, 2a; Jack Tigh 2g; Brendan Kearns 1g; Tom O'Connell 1g; Sean Cerrone 1a. FP--John Edmonds 3g, 3a; Austin Sims 3g; Cameron Harris 2g; Pat Lambert 2g; Burke Smith 2a; Teddy Long 1g; Stephen Walsh 1a; Kevin Brown 1a. Goalies: C--Matt Isnardi (5 saves); FP--Jack O'Connor (13); Shots: C--39; FP--32