The Staples boys lacrosse team, which has struggled to score goals on a consistent basis this season, appears to finally have found the key to unlock its offensive game.
Senior midfielder Patrick Lesch, who hadn't played in a regular season game since 2012 before this week, recently returned to the lineup and provided an offensive boost to a team with few issues on the other end of the field.
Lesch fired a hat trick in the fourth quarter as the Wreckers used another strong defensive effort to down Fairfield Ludlowe 9-4 on Saturday at Taft Field in Fairfield.
"It's great for Patrick Lesch, that's what's important," Staples coach Paul McNulty said. "He finally gets to play and he's made us a completely different team. He can complement Will (Johnson) and Michael (Reale) and the other attack players."
Lesch also scored three goals in a 9-8 win over Wilton on Thursday. Johnson and Connor Chamberlin each scored twice for the Wreckers Saturday.
Cole Gendels made 12 saves in the cage for Staples (8-4, 6-2). The Wreckers backline dominated for four quarters and never allowed Ludlowe the chance to generate any offensive rhythm. Staples has held its opponent to five goals or less six times in 12 games this season.
"(Gendels) has been coming up big like that all year," McNulty said. "The defense; there's been a lot of games under four or five goals. Cole and the defense have won all of our games this year."
Tyler Katz scored with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter to pull the Falcons within 6-4 before Lesch took over. The senior scored the final three goals of the game, including finishing off a 2-on-1 move with 3:57 left in the game to increase the lead to 9-4.
"(Staples) is an excellent FCIAC team and they have the record they have for a reason," Falcons coach Chris Parisi said. "They're just very good; (Gendels) stuffed us in the second half tremendously. We had our looks we didn't put away."
Matt Doyle and Lorin Tobey scored first half goals to give the Falcons a 2-1 lead. The Wreckers went nearly 20 minutes without scoring in the first half before Will Johnson scored two goals in 10 seconds late in the second quarter to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.
"We kind of bloodied (the Wreckers) noses in the first half and their offense was feeling the heat," Parisi said. "In the second half they kicked it into high gear. Coach McNulty makes great adjustments."
The Falcons, who have just six seniors, dropped to 5-7 with the loss and needs wins in three of their final four games to qualify for the state tournament.
"We're young; there is `young bloods' written on the back of our helmets this year for a reason," Parisi said. "We're bringing back just about everyone next year. It's going to take us 10 months to get back to this caliber of play."
Staples 9, Ludlowe 4
LUDLOWE 1 1 1 1--4
STAPLES 1 2 3 3--9
Records: Ludlowe 5-7, 2-6 FCIAC; Staples 8-4, 6-2.
Scoring: L--Graham Browne 1a; Trevor Demilt 1g; Lorin Tobey 1g; Matt Doyle 1g; Jack Dailey 1a; Tyler Katz 1g; Joseph Casucci 1a. S--Will Johnson 2g; Patrick Lesch 3g Connor Chamberlin 2g; Ross Goldberg 1a; Jon Pacilio 1g; Teddy Coogan 1a; Jack Greenwald 1g; Michael Reale 2a. Goalies: L--John Carey (8 saves); S--Cole Gendels (12). Shots: L--20; S--19.