NFA boys' lacrosse starts slow, finishes strong to stun Fitch
Norwich — Norwich Free Academy was plagued by a lack of variety on Thursday.
The Wildcats were shooting too many of the same shots early for head coach Nathan Wheeler’s liking as they fell behind by four goals just eight minutes into the game against Fitch.
NFA adjusted and stormed back. Shayne Evans scored with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in sudden death as the Wildcats stunned Fitch 11-10 for their first Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I boys' lacrosse win of the season.
The Wildcats (5-8, 1-1) had lost three in a row and four of their last five.
“We weren’t executing our game plan,” Wheeler said. “Our main problem was we had open shots, but they weren’t good shots on the goalie (Christian Snodgrass). He’s a great goalie, and against him, you have to really change the plane (of your shots).
“We weren’t doing it. We were putting it right on his stick. We were making it easy for him. Finally, in the second quarter, they learned.”
It sure looked like the Falcons (8-3, 1-1) were on their way to their fifth straight win. They led 4-0 with 3:26 left in the first period.”
“We came out slow,” Evans said. “After those four goals, we knew we needed to pick it up. It’s really just heart. … We started playing harder and that’s what we needed to do.”
Oddly enough, Evans’ overtime goal was his only of the game.
“Great kid,” Wheeler said. “He’s got the lax IQ down, and it was great of him to take that (shot).
“We didn’t execute with Shane enough in the second and third quarters because he was wide open many times. We just didn’t have a good bead on him. So for him to finish means a lot, and it’s great for him to step up for us like that.”
Chris Ladyga had four goals and an assist for NFA and Mathew Kolashuk, Dominic Renfree and Rye Walencewicz all scored twice.
Noah Reuling had three goals and two assists for the Falcons (8-3, 1-1). Also, Jonathon Russack-Baker had four goals and Riley Jordan, Bray Wilson and Zach Letellier all scored once.
“I think we just got a little bit ahead of ourselves,” Fitch head coach Dave Sabilia said.
Fitch rallied four times to tie NFA before finally taking the lead to end the third quarter on a disputed goal.
Walencewicz scored at the buzzer with the Falcons contending he shot after time had run out. The officials conferred and ruled it a goal to give the Wildcats an 8-7 lead.
Ladyga and Kolashuk scored back-to-back goals to push NFA ahead 10-8 with over six minutes left in the game.
Wilson scored with 2:39 remaining to pull Fitch within a goal.
Reuling tied it on a sweet goal. He first deked his defender behind the net, raced around it counterclockwise, and fired the ball in just as he got in front of the net to tie the game with 31.3 seconds left in regulation.
Ladyga won the all-important faceoff to start overtime and NFA never relinquished possession.
“(We’ve played) below expectations,” Evans said. “We started rough, but (we’re) going to finish good.”
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