NEW CANAAN -- Nearly eight months before his team's 2014 campaign began, New Canaan boys lacrosse coach Chip Buzzeo sat down to think about its end.
In efforts to construct the optimal schedule for his Rams' upcoming run at an FCIAC title "three-peat," Buzzeo sought to stage multiple close contests immediately prior to the postseason. He believed New Canaan would benefit from confidence-building wins heading into the playoffs, it would gain just as much, if not more, from having to sweat out top competition and crunch time over a short span of time.
Consequently, the coach eventually slated a team that had defeated the Rams a season ago, a well-known New Jersey prep school and a regular Connecticut lacrosse power.
Then, Saturday, as he gazed as his team joyously celebrated the end of its rugged stretch, failure, it seemed, never looked so good.
After dominating Joel Barlow and Don Bosco (N.J.) earlier in the week, New Canaan pounded Fairfield Prep 12-4 Saturday in its regular-season finale. Senior attack Harry Stanton netted five goals for the Rams, who rode an 11-1 midgame stretch to blast the Jesuits. New Canaan (13-3, 9-2 FCIAC) has now outscored its last five opponents by a combined margin of 77-18 as it heads into the FCIAC tournament.
"That was the best offensive play we've had all year," Buzzeo said. "We moved the ball extremely well. We were patient. We took the right shots. And Prep has an unbelievable goalie, very good defensemen and talented midfielders. Defensively, we reduced their transition to almost zero, and our ride was phenomenal."
The Jesuits (9-5), who opened the game's scoring less than three minutes in on an Austin Sims goal, could only describe their decisive loss as befuddling.
"I thought we were really ready to play, and you know, we shot ourselves in the foot," Prep coach Chris Smalkais said. "We turned the ball over so much. ¦ We just didn't have it today for some reason. I have no idea."
By scoring twice in each half, Rams sophomore Justin Meichner matched the Jesuits' offensive output with four goals, tallying one assist as well. His goal at the 8:27 mark of the second quarter extended New Canaan's lead to 6-1 and drew a Prep timeout. Seven minutes of empty possessions later, Jesuit attack Teddy Long struck for the final goal of the half and last meaningful Prep goal on the game.
New Canaan's Teddy Dumbauld next won the first face-off after intermission to set up a flurry of Ram shots. Then, Meichner finally connected in close on a rebounded ball before adding another goal off a pass from Clayton Burt.
Stanton, who had already scored twice off a man-up opportunity and Jesuit turnover, tallied two more goals to close the third frame with New Canaan ahead 10-2.
"We just played complete lacrosse and complete offense," Stanton said. "And I just happened to be there to pick up the five goals."
The New Canaan captain notched his fifth and final score just over a minute into the fourth quarter, thus inspiring Buzzeo to send in his second-teamers soon afterward. Looking ahead to the conference tournament, Stanton declared that the Rams are currently playing their best lacrosse of the season at exactly right time.
"This must be the best FCIAC (tournament) and the best four teams we've seen in a while," Stanton said. "It's definitely going to be tough, but we're up for the challenge. And we want to get that three-peat."
New Canaan will enter FCIAC quarterfinal play on Friday at 4 p.m. against a team yet to be determined. Fairfield Prep is scheduled to wrap up its regular season at home this week against Xavier on Tuesday and Cheshire on Thursday.
FAIRFIELD PREP 1 1 0 2--4
NEW CANAAN 4 2 4 2--12
Records: Fairfield Prep 9-5, New Canaan 13-3, 9-2 FCIAC. Scoring: FP --Austin Sims 2 goals, Teddy Long 1 g, Cam Harris 1g ; NC-- Harry Stanton 5 goals, 1 assist, Justin Meichner 4g, 1a, Clayton Burt 1g, 2a, Cole Turpin 1g, Robby Paul 1g, Michael Kraus 2a, Owen Toland 1a; Goalies: FP -- Jack O'Connor (9 saves), NC--Trent Nader (5). Shots: FP--13; NC--33. Highlights: FP -- Austin Sims scored a pair of unassisted goals. NC -- Harry Stanton recorded a second-half hat trick en route to five goals on the day. Justin Meichner scored four times. The Rams outscored Prep 10-1 between the first and last seven minutes of the game.