Cadets come up big at right times

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - Sports - By Michael Forn­abaio

NORWALK — When the out­come was in doubt, that’s when St. Joseph’s top boys lacrosse play­ers were at their finest, earn­ing the Cadets their fifth CIAC Class S ti­tle in a decade, beat­ing two- time de­fend­ing cham­pion Somers 11- 6 Satur­day.

When the Cadets led 1- 0 at Jack Casagrande Field, Kyle Bur­bank stopped three shots in about 10 sec­onds, a flurry and a re­bound.

When the sec­ond- seeded Spar­tans cut St. Joseph’s lead to 5- 4 in the third quar­ter, Jared Mal­lozzi scored back- to- back goals,

his third and fourth.

This group of Cadets took that and won their first cham­pi­onship since 2015, and their first un­der coach Bren­dan Tal­bot.

“It’s his first state cham­pi­onship. In his first year, we lost to them,” ju­nior co- cap­tain Phil Pas­meg said. “We did it for him. The seniors helped us out, and like I said be­fore, we’ve got great seniors.”

Seniors Mal­lozzi and Matt Labash scored seven goals be­tween them.

“Af­ter los­ing two years ago to the same team, you come back as a se­nior, and I wanted it more than ever,” Mal­lozzi said.

The ninth- seeded Cadets ( 13- 6) were play­ing for a ti­tle for the eighth time in those 10 years. The two sea­sons they didn’t make the fi­nal, they missed the play­offs by a game. That in­cluded last year. “To be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ. We wanted to put St. Joe’s back on top,” Tal­bot said. “We had to grow up. We only had three seniors last year. You saw the re­sult, back on top of the moun­tain.”

Somers ( 18- 3), the sec­ond seed, played with­out se­nior stand­out Colin Whit­ford, in­jured in the semi­fi­nals. Se­nior Dante Gi­achello had three goals and as­sisted on an­other, but the Spar­tans weren’t able to catch up to the Cadets on Satur­day.

“This is a cel­e­bra­tion here, still, for this pro­gram, these kids. It’s not a huge downer. It’s not huge fuel for the fire, ei­ther,” Somers coach Ken McCarthy said. “We wanted to be here in the very last game. St. Joe’s was very good to­day, and we weren’t. ... It wasn’t be­cause we weren’t play­ing, weren’t try­ing hard. We just made a few mis­takes.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Tal­bot and Mal­lozzi both said they were dis­ap­pointed that goalie Bur­bank wasn’t cho­sen to ei­ther the All- FCIAC or all- state teams, and af­ter Satur­day’s per­for­mance, it’s un­der­stand­able.

“That’s crazy, a kid that can go all sea­son against FCIAC teams, put up num­bers like he did, es­pe­cially to­day,” Mal­lozzi said. “You get ner­vous on the side­line, and all of a sud­den he hits one up, and it’s like, ‘ wow.’”

McCarthy said the Spar­tans had a plan to beat Bur­bank, but it didn’t hap­pen of­ten enough.

“Their goalie was go­ing low. We told our kids to drop their shoul­der and shoot high, and for what­ever rea­son, we didn’t,” McCarthy said.

SCAT­TERED FLUR­RIES

Late in the first quar­ter, the game still 1- 0, Bur­bank stopped Avery Foye in front. Somers quickly moved the ball to set up Foye again on the doorstep; Bur­bank stopped his one­timer, then re­set to stop Scott Syming­ton.

“I just try to put my­self in best po­si­tion to make saves. Sometimes it comes out good. Sometimes it comes out bad,” Bur­bank said. “I’ve got to give credit to my team­mates. We had all of our play­ers mak­ing 90 per­cent of our team lifts ( in the off­sea­son). We’re state champs.”

HALF MEA­SURES

We won­dered from a dis­tance what Pas­meg was telling his team­mates, an­i­mat­edly, at half­time, when the Cadets led 5- 3.

“It was re­ally, you’ve got to pull ev­ery­thing to­gether,” the de­fender said. “At the state cham­pi­onship, you have a longer break. You re­ally have to col­lect your­self. You’re sit­ting for 10 minute and not fo­cused on the game.”

QUOTABLE

“It was kind of un­for­tu­nate he didn’t get rec­og­nized ( on all- state or All- FCIAC teams), but on this stage: If there’s bet­ter goalies than him in Con­necti­cut, you can count them on one hand.” — St. Joseph coach Bren­dan Tal­bot, on Bur­bank

Bob Luckey Jr. / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

The Cadets mob goalie Kyle Bur­bank ( bot­tom of pile) af­ter de­feat­ing Somers 11- 6 in the Class S ti­tle game at Brien McMa­hon High School in Norwalk on Satur­day.

Bob Luckey Jr. / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

St. Joseph goalie Kyle Bur­bank stops a point- blank shot by Somers’ Dante Gi­achello dur­ing the Cadets’ 11- 6 vic­tory Satur­day in the Class S ti­tle game in Norwalk.

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