BERLIN - The CT Titans (West Hartford) could not have asked for a better way to begin the Nutmeg Games.
The Titans used a seemingly perfect second half to help propel them to a 9-2 win over TICKS Lacrosse (Old Lyme) in the first game of the 14U Boys Lacrosse Tournament Monday night at Sage Park.
The Titans held just a 3-2 lead at halftime, but shutout TICKS in the second half to make it seem like an easy win.
“I feel like our team was better prepared for the game,” West Hartford head coach Chris Weller said. “We defintiely had better skill players than they did at this point in the season. What it comes down to, because of training our guys have had all summer, these guys are ready to go on in the second half, whereas the other team may not have been. [TICKS] did a good job. I just think we were better prepared to go the whole game.”
Ryan Weller, Chris’ son, was a key facilitator on offense for the Titans, netting one goal while assisting three others.
“Well, I started out pretty rough in the first half,” Ryan said. “But I think I warmed up and did pretty well in the second half.”
Ryan said the offensive barrage in the second half had a lot to do with the team’s increased execution.
“We moved the ball really well and definitely set up our offense much better,” the player said. “We just rotated and made the plays much better than we did in the first half.
Another impact player was Jeff Tailon, who did a little bit of everything for the Titans. He scored three goals, two of which came in the first half, and was also perfect in the faceoff, gaining possesion on each of his five attempts.
Despite the loss, TICKS head coach Jeremy Soboleski was proud of the effort his team put forward.
“I think our boys came out really good in the first half,” Soboleski said. “I think in the second half, we were a little bit more tired. But for the first game of our season, against a very good opponent, I think we played very well.”
Soboleski said the team’s lack of experience playing together was one difference maker, especially against a West Hartford team that has been practicing together throughout the summer.
“This was the first time most of these kids have met each other,” Soboleski said of his team. “So I think that was a factor. But I also think their size - they were a lot bigger than us - it just wore us down.”
Despite the loss, Soboleski was pleasantly surprised with what he saw and hopes to build off of it as the tournament moves along.
“Some of the kids showed some stuff that we didn’t know they could do,” Soboleski said. “So we are going to try to highlight their strengths and hide their weaknesses as the games come along.”
Chris Weller knows the importance of picking up an early win in this tournament, especially with a skilled field in this year’s tournament.
“There’s some tough team’s out there,” Chris said. “I haven’t seen the other teams play yet, but I know there are some good players on those teams. It’s going to be a good competition. I hope that we do well obviously, but it’s going to be tough.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org