New Milford boys lacrosse overcomes slow start, qualifies for state tournament
NEW MILFORD - Having overcome a slow start, the New Milford high School boys lacrosse team is rolling as it heads into the home stretch of the regular season.
Led by second-year head coach Evan Cassells, the Green Wave were coming off a 4-12 season last year, so a fast start would have been welcome. But after an opening-game win over Pomperaug, the team went through a three-game losing skid.
The Green Wave bounced back, however, rattling off seven wins in a row, starting with a comeback 12-11 win at Brookfield on April 11. The winning streak ended with a close loss to Masuk, and New Milford was 8-4 going into a tough matchup against SWC foe Weston on Wednesday.
“The first Brookfield game really inspired our team,” Cassells said. “We were down four goals with seven minutes left and came back to tie the game with seven seconds left in the game. We won the faceoff in OT and it took only one possession to get the win.
“This moment really inspired our team,” Cassells added. “We went on to win seven in a row playing with extreme confidence.”
Included in the streak was an impressive 10-3 win over William Floyd of New York in the The Across the Sound Tournament, which New Milford hosted on its new turf field. It was another confidence-booster for the Green Wave.
“The Across the Sound tournament was a tremendous success,” Cassells said. “ Connecticut swept all four games for the first time in its tournament history. It was a tremendous day for Connecticut lacrosse.”
The Green Wave have now qualified for the state tournament and are in a great position to qualify for the SWC tournament, which would be a huge improvement from last year.
“Our goals haven't changed since the beginning of the season,” Cassells said. “We have the same dreams and ambitions. We still believe competing for an SWC championship is attainable and making a run in the state tournament is what we're striving for.
“We are playing extremely inspired lacrosse right now,” he said. “I am proud of how this program has responded to the early adversity of three losses in a row.”
The win streak also saw New Milford knock off Bunnell, Immaculate, Hall High of West Hartford and Brookfield for a second time. After Weston, three games remain, including Bethel and undefeated New Fairfield.
“We are playing determined and with a chip on our shoulder,” Cassells said. “We still have work to do, though, and realize nothing is handed to us. We have been in tough situations before and have learned from them.
“I believe fully in this team, and they finally believe in themselves and that's what's most important,” he said. “They can be as good as they want to be.”