NEWINGTON - The first half was played to a tie and Newington scored first in the second half, but Farmington scored 10 straight goals after that to put a stranglehold on Wednesday’s boys lacrosse game, eventually winning 16-8.
Newington (8-8) entered the contest on a four-game winning streak, having scored 15 goals in each of those wins.
The team seemed to be in a good position to extend that winning streak, but fatigue hit in the second half and the players couldn’t muster up enough energy to keep up with Farmington.
“We don’t have that many guys,” junior midfielder Connor Brennan said. “We are running like four middies or three middies, so it’s a lot.”
Add on the 90-degree weather and it was clear the team was worn out at the end of the 48 minutes.
“The weather definitely had a lot to do with it and we have been playing a lot of lacrosse recently,” junior defenseman Rob Petronio said. “It’s been pretty humid all this week and we had a game Monday, then a two-hour practice Tuesday, so it’s been a lot.”
Head coach Zach Zarookian acknowledged that the heat was certainly tough to deal with, especially for his team, but he wouldn’t use it as an excuse because both teams had to deal with it.
“Games at the end of the year are tough but I just don’t think we really played well in the second half,” Zarookian said.
The second-year head coach didn’t think his team played smart.
“We threw the ball away a lot on offense, we played a lot of defense and our offense wasn’t very sensitive to the fact that we were playing a lot of defense,” he said. “Usually in lacrosse if you are dominating possession and you are getting the ball, that’s going to go away. We got kind of sloppy.”
It was Newington’s final game of the regular season and the team was playing its third game in six days, so as much as coaches don’t like to use that as an excuse, Zarookian did admit it probably had an impact.
“We have played a lot of games in a short amount of days,” he said. “I think our kids are running on adrenaline right now and I think that showed today. We are kind of banged up. But I do think we have played really well in the closing stretch of the season, for the last four and a half games. I just think this final half we fell off.”
Newington had already punched its ticket to the state tournament prior to facing Farmington (7-7).
“It was a different game because we knew we were already clinched, which was kind of nice,” Zarookian said. “It was a game though, that we really wanted to win because if we won we knew we would be in the conference tournament, so I was viewing it as a conference quarterfinal game.
“We haven’t had a winning record in the regular season in a long time, too, so that was some motivation. It is nice to be in the state tournament, we hadn’t been there in four years, so we are definitely happy about it, but we wanted to win. This is kind of a rivalry game against Farmington, a nearby town, and a program that we are striving to be like.”
Newington opened the scoring in the game with a goal from Brennan early in the first quarter. From there the two teams traded goals until the middle of the third quarter.
Farmington’s Kevin Setzko had four first-half as the two teams entered the break tied 5-5.
Setzko’s four goals were a game-high, while both Alex Wackelin and Ted Colavecchio of Farmington added three apiece.
Newington’s Jack lam and Dan Pestrichello scored two goals each.
Newington scored just three goals in the second half, partially because of an excellent performance in net by Farmington’s Ryan Springer, who had 11 saves.
Newington goalie Gage Garcia was a standout early on, but once the second half started he was getting peppered with shot after shot. He finished the game with nine saves.
Newington is now in a three-way tie with Farmington and RHAM in the conference and will have to wait to see if it will participate in the conference tournament. If not, the team will have approximately 10 days to get ready for its first round state tournament game.
“Those 10 days would be huge,” Petronio said. “We will hopefully be able to get in the gymnasium just do a light helmet and gloves practice where we can go over plays and basic formations. We will definitely enjoy the break and be ready when the state tournament comes around.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-8-1-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bigwoolf5