NEWINGTON - Campbell Manolis snapped his stick down and snared a shot and then another and then another.
No matter how hard the CT Barrage (Newington) tried, the CT Zebras (Berlin)/PRO Lacrosse goalie made sure his team was leaving ClemLemire Athletic Complex with the Nutmeg Games 15U boys lacrosse tournament’s gold medal.
Manolis stopped 15 shots on net and the Zebras/PRO Lacrosse used four first-half goals to beat the Barrage 5-3 Saturday afternoon.
“I was thinking, ‘the team deserves more,’” Manolis said of his performance. “So I kept with it and eventually I was picking off goals left and right and trying to make it easy on myself. I didn’t take much energy out of myself, didn’t run up the field like I usually do. I took the easy passes and the easy saves.”
Perhaps his finest save of the afternoon came midway through the second half when Newington’s Mike Zapatka ripped a low shot from 20 yards away from the cross crease. Just as quickly, Margolis dropped his stick head just below his knees and plucked the ball before it found the back of the net.
“[Manolis is] honestly the best goalie I’ve ever had at this age,” Zebras/PRO Lacrosse head coach Phil Orzech said. “He’s a hard worker and he’s going to be a great goalie. I have no doubt about it. I look forward to seeing him play in high school and I’m sure in play in college. He’s that type of player.”
There were times Saturday when Manolis needed to be even after the Zebras/PRO Lacrosse built an early lead. The team only managed half as many shots as the Barrage even though it played with lead throughout the majority of the game.
Two of Newington’s goals came in the first half. Zapatka netted the first score with Dan Barron scoring the second a little under eight minutes later. Zapatka also added the team’s lone score after halftime. Both of Zapatka’s goals came from outside 20 yards.
“He’s a guy who we rely to dodge 1-on-1,” Barrage head coach Nick Black said of Zapatka. “When he gets that matchup at the midfield, we have confidence he can take it. It’s those other little factors. He’s working off the [double teams] and he’s that next guy who’s going to be open and we just have to see it.
“But Campbell is a goalie who has a lot of skill and quick hands so I told our guys, ‘if you have a shot past a defender and have a quick shot take it. Just constantly shooting because one of those is going to go it’ and that’s the toughest thing.”
At the same time, Newington also had issues with penalties. The Barrage were flagged six times, including four in the second half. The Zebras/Pro Lacrosse, meanwhile, were penalized just three times and were able to take advantage of the extra attacker.
“Most of games we try to play with a physical mentality the whole time,” Black said. “Ride hard on attack and slide hard on defense. And it’s one of those things when you play physically, you get a lot more calls on you throughout the game. The refs mentioned that to me and I tried to argue a few different calls and it’s tough when things don’t go your way. But when a lot penalties stack up, it’s one of those things that can kill you.”
And as the final whistle sounded to cap off the Zebras/PRO Lacrosse win, the first player the team went to was the goalie who helped make winning the gold medal possible.
“I just felt like was just ready for anything,” Manolis said. “I was in the zone.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com