BRISTOL - The Berlin boys lacrosse team faced a demanding schedule this week, tasked with playing three games in four days after dropping a heartbreaking 9-8 overtime loss to East Catholic the week before.
Four days and three games later, and the Redcoats have themselves a three-game winning streak, making last week’s loss a distant memory.
The trio of wins for Berlin have come in all fashions, ranging from a gritty 6-5 win over a solid Southington team to a 19-1 blowout victory over Bristol Eastern on Thursday afternoon. After watching 11 different players score against the Lancers, head coach Scott Rossi spoke of his team’s current cohesion with a heightened sense of enthusiasm.
“They’re playing with confidence and a lot of speed,” Rossi said. “The practices have been fantastic. Sometimes the level of competition in the conference can be varied, but they push each other in practice and really compete, and that’s helping them get a lot better.”
The Redcoats have ramped up the speed over the past week, but ironically, the increase in velocity has come from slowing things down and waiting for an open window rather than trying to force themselves in. The team may be moving their feet and hands faster than the early part of the season, but only because they have slowed things down between the ears.
“I think our patience and ball movement have been a lot better,” Rossi said. “Rather than settling for shot after shot, we’ve done a really nice job of finding the open man for the best possible shot. That’s been the biggest improvement in our game so far.”
For Berlin, ball movement and communication come naturally, though it may have taken a few games to blossom. The Redcoats are loaded with senior talent, and many have been sharing the same field for almost a decade. After a conference championship last year and an early exit in the state tournament, the close-knit Berlin squad is hitting its stride thanks to a shared determination to send off the large group of seniors with a deep state tournament run.
“I think this year, we’re all on the same page,” senior T.J. Hebert said. “We have a common goal. We have been playing together most of our lives, and it’s just a different environment this year.”
The determined Redcoats have scored 42 goals in their last three games, but the winning streak can also be traced back to the defensive end, or really, anywhere on the field, as Berlin seems to be clicking in every aspect of the game.
“Our defense has stepped up amazingly,” Hebert said. “Our goalie Sebby Fusco has done an amazing job in net. Our defenders are all playing well, too.”
It’s easy for the Redcoats to praise each other, given their long-lasting relationships that will culminate in a last attempt at a state championship. For now, they’re not looking ahead. They’re enjoying every moment on the field together, and it shows on the scoreboard, on the sidelines and everywhere in between.
“These guys have been playing together since they were seven years old,” Rossi said. “There’s a really good chemistry, and they’re having fun. They’re moving the ball and there’s a lot of movement away from the ball. They understand the nuances of their game. I’ve been really happy with it.”
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or email@example.com