NEW MILFORD - A strong finish to the season has the New Milford boys lacrosse team looking ahead to a bright future.

The Green Wave finished the regular season with a record of 9-7 and faced Newtown in the quarterfinals of the SWC Tournament. New Milford lost the game, 11-9, but gained some confidence.

“This game was monumental for our state playoff run,” said New Milford coach Evan Cassells. “We rediscovered that we can play with anyone as long as we play hard for a full 48 minutes.”

New Milford was seeded No. 15 in Class L in the state tournament and drew a home qualifying game vs No. 18 seed Farmington. Not having played for a week and half, the Green Wave were a little rusty and were down four goals with two minutes to go in the first half.

“Farmington played us extremely hard, it was a win-or-go-home situation, and they were determined to keep their season going,” Cassells said.

With a 1:06 left in the game the Green Wave were down two goals and responded with three goals, the last one coming with six seconds left.

“We won the game and the home crowd erupted,” Cassells said. “One of the best atmospheres I've been apart of at New Milford.”

The win over Farmington moved New Milford into a matchup with undefeated No. 2 seed South Windsor. The game began in favor of the home Bobcats, who opened up a 4-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. New Milford rallied, however, going on an 8-0 run and taking the lead by storm.

South Windsor regained a 10-9 lead before New Milford drew a penalty and scored to force OT. The Green Wave won the opening faceoff, Evan Federowicz drew a double-team and shoveled the ball across the crease to an open Liam Kenny, who sent it in for the win.

“This was one of the most exciting moments that I've been apart of through my years as a player and coach,” Cassells said. “Only the SWC championship game in 2007 rivals it. We won 11-10 and our exciting run continued.”

The run ended, however, with a loss at Cheshire, but Cassells said that game won't take away the memories made and statement the team made.

“I couldn't be prouder of this team and the way they faced adversity twice,” he said. “That's why sports are so great: you learn life lessons such as facing adversity and how to overcome it.”

Cassells credited the senior class for helping set the tone throughout the year and getting the program moving in the right direction.

“This was a special group of seniors,” he said. “This being my second year as head coach, they had an option to buy in or continue to go through the motions. They chose to buy in and created something that the younger student athletes in our program can aspire to achieve. This group will be missed.

“We grew together and enjoyed each day we got to work towards the same goal. These seniors are on to very big things; many of them will be continuing their lacrosse careers at the collegiate level, which is always great for our program. I wish them the best and hope they will give back to our program in the future.”

Despite the loss of an important senior class, the program’s future is bright. New Milford will be returning All-League Midfielder Nate Capriglione and several other starters including Mike Getman, Kyle Wilton, J.D. Warren, Dylan Kessman and starting goalie Bryan Almeida.

“I look forward to another successful season and hope to continue turning heads in the state,” Cassells said.