Fairfield Prep spotted visiting Notre Dame-West Haven an early goal Saturday morning, then used its superior transition game and ability to outrace the Green Knights down the field, to post an 18-4 victory in an SCC boys lacrosse game at University Field on the campus of Fairfield University.
The Jesuits had forged a 6-1 lead entering the second quarter and brought an 11-4 cushion into halftime. They improved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference. Notre Dame-West Haven dropped to 1-4 overall and in the SCC.
Senior attackman Burke Smith had a game-high seven points on four goals and three assists for Prep. Freshman Chris Brown supplied three goals and an assist, and junior Cameron Harris assaulted the Notre Dame defense with a pair of goals and assists each. Junior John Edmonds and sophomore Colin Smalkais both had two goals and one assist for the Jesuits.
Despite the lopsided final margin, Prep coach Chris Smalkais found areas in which the Jesuits can improve, though he said he was pleased with their overall play. He cited the impact left on his team by the weather, the ending of school vacation and Sunday's holiday.
"We need to be a little more focused as we prepare four our upcoming games," Chris Smalkais said of an April 24 home game against Class L power Greenwich and an April 26 game at New Jersey power Delbarton.
"We need to improve our lacrosse IQ and (reacting) to game situations," the coach said. "We made some mistakes but they were correctable mistakes -- just communicating. We need to improve our communication. Communication needs to be our culture."
Confusion among Prep's defenders might have led to the game's first goal. Andrew Stofko put the Green Knights ahead by 1-0 on a goal 2 minutes and 22 seconds into the first quarter. Smith scored at 4:04, Brown at 5:55 and Edmonds at 6:58 before Smith got his second goal at 7:57. When Teddy Long scored 60 seconds after Smith's second tally, Prep had built a 5-1 lead. It stretched to 8-1 before Joe Biondi scored for the Green Knights in the third minute of the second quarter.
Neither team traditionally circles this game on its game calendar, though it is a way for Notre Dame to gauge how it rates in contrast to the 12-time conference champion and six-time state champ Jesuits. Prep is seeking its third straight CIAC Class L title and its fourth straight SCC tournament crown this spring.
The difference between the teams in Prep's favor affected Notre Dame's play, said the Green Knights' first-year coach AJ Alessi. "They pressured us a lot defensively. We were a bit intimidated on offense at first. Their pressure got to us a bit," Alessi said.
The Green Knights' ride, traditionally one of their strengths, led to the game-opening goal, Alessi said. "We rode them hard on that play. We had some good possessions after we realized we could play with them."
Notre Dame had some long offensive sets, but the Jesuits' defenders were patient, moved well in coverage and rarely got beat out of position. They limited Notre Dame to only five shots on goal, forcing Prep's first-half goalie, Logan Cotter, to be called on to make only one save.
John O'Connor played goal in the second half without making a save or surrendering a goal. Coach Smalkais said Cotter, a senior, and O'Connor, a sophomore, will be in a rotation in net until one establishes superiority over the other. "We'll see who does better in practice," Chris Smalkais said of the goaltenders. "We're going week to week (in goal) until we determine who gives us the best chance to win."
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Fairfield Prep 18, Notre Dame-West Haven 4
ND-WEST HAVEN 1 3 0 0--4
FAIRFIELD PREP 6 5 5 2--18
Records: Notre Dame-West Haven 1-4, 1-4 SCC, Fairfield Prep 3-1, 3-0 SCC. Scoring: ND-WH--Andrew Stofko 1 goal, Joe Biondi (1g), Dylan Penna (1g), Justin Childs (1g); FP--Burke Smith (4g, 3a), Chris Brown (3g, 1a), Cameron Harris (2g, 2a), John Edmonds (2g, 1a), Colin Smalkais (2g, 1a), Teddy Long (2g), Austin Sims (2a), Colby Monachino (1g, 1a), Nicholas Franchuk (1g), John Dellisanti (1g). Goalies: ND-WH--John Brunetti (5 saves); FP--Logan Cotter (1), John O'Connor (0). Shots: ND-WH--5; FP--23.