Conard hosted South Windsor in West Hartford on Tuesday night.
By Paul Palmer
The Conard boys lacrosse team had not tasted victory this season, going 0-7 heading into Tuesday’s matchup with South Windsor. A little home cooking, some timely scoring, and a defense that stood up when it had to helped the Chieftains overwhelm the Bobcats 15-6.
“I told them the other day, our time is coming,” said head coach Matt Cersosimo. “Our message has been let’s try to get better each time we step on the field- practice or game,” he added.
Senior midfielder Aidan Shaffer and junior attackman Brayden Grainger led the Conard attack with three goals apiece. In net, sophomore goalie Trevor Dalton overcame a quick early goal by South Windsor to turn in a strong game with 15 saves.
“He played a great game,” said Cersosimo of his goalie. “He has really stepped is as a leader on our defense.”
After the Bobcats scored in the first minute of the game, Conard dominated possession most of the first half and began to roar back. The Chieftains scored four times in a span of 4:46, but they also had to battle some self-inflicted wounds with penalties.
Leading by with just over four minutes to go in the first, the home team found itself going 2-men down for 30 seconds and then they took a 1-minute penalty with 2 seconds to go in the 2-man disadvantage. The defense held, and Dalton made a timely save and covered the loose ball to keep the score at 4-2 after one.
Conard kept up their advantage in the possession game in the second quarter, and sophomore attack Chris Nelson helped set up another goal when his hard work on defense forced a turnover that led to the Chieftains fifth goal less than 3 mites into the second. Later in the period it was defenseman Aaron Gruber – who played a strong, physical game – intercepting a South Windsor pass, and forcing the Bobcats to take a penalty.
Nolan then converted on the advantage to make it a 6-2 lead. Grainger would get Conard’s seventh goal, but then another penalty put the pressure back on the host team just after South Windsor cut the lead to 7-4 on Will Arnold’s goal. Conard did a good job of killing the time when they took possession and Baden Krisst, Shaffer, and Owen McGoldrick kept moving the ball as the seconds ticked away to halftime.
Much of Conard’s early success started at the face off with first-year player Huy Doan turning in a strong performance, winning 10 face offs. “He’s a football player that wanted to join us last year before the season was canceled,” said Cersosimo. “We had him working with our face offs coach and he said, ‘you have to get this guy out there.’ He’s one of the most passionate kids on our team always doing what’s right.”
The second half saw South Windsor gain more of the possession, mostly due to Conard taking penalties. With his team down a man, defenseman John Schultz won the ball and raced the length of the field to score the goal that all but sealed South Windsor’s fate.
With the four-goal cushion, Gruber raced into the path of Bobcat attackers on two occasions, taking the ball away and snuffing out any chance to score. The Chieftains would then go on to score a pair of hard work goals in a 31-second span. First it was Krisst firing a bullet high on the opposing goalie, and then it was McGoldrick converting the rebound of a Will Tousignant shot to make it 11-4 and each team would add one more before the end of the third quarter.
By 1:26 of the fourth quarter Conard had added two more goals and Cersosimo was able to empty his bench, letting each of the players get a chance to play in the squad’s first win.
“I’m happy for the kids,” Cersosimo said after the win. “They are eager to work at practice and in the games and just love playing together. It’s pretty neat to get their first win.”
Conard will travel to Somers on Thursday.
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