FAIRFIELD -- St. Joseph entered Thursday off a brutal 10-day stretch that included games against three of the state's top boys lacrosse teams: Greenwich, New Canaan and Darien.

The Cadets were crushed in those games by a combined score of 49-10, so they considered it important to respond to the next challenge on their schedule.

Thanks to some overtime dramatics, the Cadets did just that Thursday, edging Fairfield Warde 8-7 on Josiah Wilson's goal with 9.4 seconds left in the extra session.

"I loved the game. I loved the fact that it was an overtime game," St. Joseph coach Joe Izzo said. "I loved the fact that these guys just dug in and played hard and gutted out a win."

St. Joseph nearly let the win slip away, relinquishing a four-goal lead in the fourth quarter. Freshman Garreth Gasetta's goal with 24.3 seconds remaining tied it 7-7 and ultimately helped Warde force overtime.

Both teams squandered early chances in the five-minute, sudden-death overtime. The Mustangs narrowly missed the game-winner on a shot that rang off the outside of the post. An offsides call with 35 seconds left gave the Cadets possession.

On the Cadets' second shot of overtime and 35th of the game, Wilson collected a pass from Ryan Corcoran in front and buried the winning goal.

"I said `Go' right away," Wilson said, "and he (Corcoran) listened. It turned out pretty well. He dodged on his guy, beat him, drew a slide.

"He found me on the doorstep."

In the process, the Cadets ended a two-game slide and improved to 5-3. Warde dropped to 5-4.

"Frustrating, but it said a lot for what our guys were able to do with the comeback," Mustangs coach Tom Cunningham said. "We can take a lot of positives out of this game."

The Mustangs took plenty of positives from their last game as well. On Tuesday they notched their first-ever win over rival Ludlowe, 5-4.

"Much improved, oh yeah." Izzo said of Warde. "There's no question about it."

Despite being outshot 35-22, the Mustangs stayed close behind Jason Nerreau's 13-save effort in goal. Eight of those stops came in the second half and overtime as the Mustangs rallied from 4-1 down at halftime.

Brendan King led the Mustangs with three goals and had two assists.

Six different players scored for St. Joseph, with Wilson and Peter Bashar leading the team with two apiece. Bashar's second goal put the Cadets ahead 7-6 with 1:02 remaining.

Dave Andrews' faceoff wins gave Warde plenty of opportunities to steal a win, but St. Joseph eventually regained its rhythm on offense.

"It was a little frustrating; a little nervewracking, too," Wilson said of the Cadets' struggles on offense. "We had the ball and lost it."

dbonjour@ctpost.com; twitter.com/DougBonjour

ST. JOSEPH 1 3 1 2 1 -- 8

WARDE 1 0 1 5 0 -- 7

Records: St. Joseph 5-3; Warde 5-4. Scoring: SJ -- Josiah Wilson (2g, 2a), Peter Bashar (2g, 1a), Ryan Corcoran (1g, 1a), Jeff Marcantonio (1g), Mike Sudora (1g), Rick Giordano (1g). W -- Brendan King (3g, 2a), Austin Armas (2g), Jake Dougherty (1g, 1a), Garreth Gasetta (1g), Ryan Brown (1a), Kevin Robinson (1a), Jack Potenza (1a). Goalies: SJ -- Mike Braddick (7 saves); W -- Jason Nerreau (13). Shots: SJ -- 35; W -- 22.