Defending champ New Fairfield returns to final
FAIRFIELD — The inevitable took a while, but there has been no stopping New Fairfield this year, not for anyone in-state on the Rebels’ schedule.
Seven second-quarter goals broke it open Wednesday night at Rafferty Stadium, and the defending-champion Rebels returned to the Class M boys lacrosse final with a 17-7 semifinal win over Guilford.
“It’s awesome to have a chance to repeat,” said Rebels senior defender Nick Alviti, at the heart of a defensive effort that stifled Guilford’s offense until the game was well out of reach late.
“It’s literally everything we’ve worked for, all season, since the second the game ended last year.”
Guilford goalie Devlin Ahlefeld kept it close in the first quarter, making seven of his 18 saves. New Fairfield struck with one second left in the first to take a 2-1 lead, and the Rebels created better shots and dominated from there.
“I said to those guys, thank God for our defense,” Rebels coach Marty Morgan said. “A 1-0 game, and we had a catch with the goalie. I don’t want to take anything away from him, he had a great game, but we shot at his stick a whole bunch of times.
“The defense got us the ball back every time. Our faceoff guy (Matt Constantinides) got us the ball back, and we started scoring goals.”
The top-seeded Rebels (21-1, 18-0 in-state), ranked fifth in the GameTimeCT poll, will play for a CIAC championship for the sixth time on Saturday at a time to be announced at McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field. They’ll be seeking their third title.
Waiting there will be third-seeded, ninth-ranked Weston (19-3), a 10-8 winner over 10th-seeded Notre Dame-West Haven in the other semifinal. New Fairfield beat the Trojans 17-4 in the regular season and 14-2 in the SWC final.
Guilford, the fourth seed, finishes 16-5.
“As soon as you get the ball down the other end, they just swarm you,” Guilford coach Brian White said.
Guilford tried a bunch of ways defensively to slow things down.
“I was nervous coming into this game just because I know Coach White. I think the world of him,” Morgan said. “He’s a great game-planner. He scouts well. I was nervous. Last year, they were winning the entire game in the playoffs. We had to fight our way back to get a ‘W’.”
The teams played three times in the Class M playoffs during these seniors’ careers, twice before in the quarterfinals. New Fairfield won them all, 10-9 in 2016 and 13-12 last year.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
All-America defender Nick Alviti of New Fairfield contained All-America attackman John DeLucia of Guilford, keying a ferocious defensive effort.
AT THE OTHER END
New Fairfield’s Liam Ford had four goals and four assists. Dylan Hanley scored five goals, and Brett Tenaglia had four.
SO, THAT MATCHUP
“What stands out about (DeLucia) is his stick control,” Alviti said.
“He does a good job holding it in tight spaces. I think our defense did a lot of help. A lot of guys behind me helped out a lot, too.”
DeLucia got a shot off, over the crossbar, early, then set up Jack Dacey for the only Guilford goal of the first quarter. New Fairfield forced almost everyone else into turnovers.
“They’ve been good all year, last season. It’s fun to play against them. They definitely make you work,” DeLucia said. “Good luck to them. They’ve definitely got a good shot to win it.”
“A lot of the coaches that were watching were very kind talking about our (defense).” —New Fairfield coach Marty Morgan
NEW FAIRFIELD 17, GUILFORD 7
GUILFORD1 1 0 5—7
NEW FAIRFIELD2 7 5 3—17
Records: Guilford 16-5; New Fairfield 21-1. Scoring: G—Jack Dacey 3 goals, John DeLucia 2 goals, 1 assist, Sam Barbetti 1g, 2a, James Wrynn 1g; NF—Liam Ford 4g, 4a, Dylan Hanley 5g, 1a, Brett Tenaglia 4g, 2a, James Leary 2g, 1a, Nate Alviti 1g, 2a, John Morgan 1g, 1a, Nick Gephart 1a. Goalies: G—Devlin Ahlefeld (18 saves); NF—Brennan Hart (4), Hunter Billings (0). Shots: G—17; NF—51.