NEWINGTON – Undefeated no more.
Newington boys lacrosse downed Canton, 11-8, Friday at Clem Lemire Field on Senior Night to hand the Warriors their first loss of the season. The victory also gave Newington a berth into the Class L state tournament.
“We definitely needed this hard-fought win to get us going,” Nor’easters senior Mike Zapatka said. “Like we said we made the state tournament playoff and we’re making our push. We got a lot of resiliency.”
Zapatka led Newington with six goals in the win over Canton (8-1), including the first two of the game right off the bat. The Nor’easters jumped ahead 2-0 and did not surrender the lead again despite the Warriors tying it at 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4.
“I think where a lot of kids would have fallen to the occasion, Mike has really risen to the occasion,” Newington coach Zach Zarookian said. “We’re asking a lot of the kid, asking him faceoff, asking him to play defense, asking him to play offense, man-up, so I mean the kid is on the field the whole game. He’s an emotional kid and the team means a lot to him and he loves the game.”
Newington took a 6-5 lead into halftime, but then came out firing in the second half, scoring two of the three total goals in the third quarter, courtesy of Padraig Brown.
Leading 8-6 at the start of the final frame, two goals from Zapatka and another from Kyle Bross gave the Nor’easters the cushion it needed to upend Canton.
“[Canton] scores a lot of goals, they scored 28 on Rockville, 27 on Windsor, 23 on Enfield, so going into the game we said we didn’t want to turn this into a track meet,” Zarookian said. “We did not want to play a game where we had to outscore them, because they do have a powerhouse offense.”
Tommy Brescia and Dylan Diaz also tallied goals for Nor’easters while Sam Davies played well in goal.
“We knew they were a really good team, 8-0, so we knew it was going to be a war,” Davies said. “We know how we play, we know what we have to do to take the [W] and it just came down to who made less mistakes and who wanted it more and we came out on top.”
“They were 8-0, had to ruin their undefeated season,” senior Trevor Rielly said. “You love to see it.”
The Nor’easters have now won three straight after falling to East Catholic, 14-2, May 1. Along with the loss, senior Dan Barron broke his ankle during the game, ending his senior year after just three games.
Barron’s loss forced Zapatka to step up offensively and it showed Friday.
“He controlled the whole offense,” Zapatka said. “He was totally the man and he broke his ankle and he’s done for the rest of the season, so I have to take it upon myself to take lead of this team and I have to try and push everyone in a better direction. I definitely know we can do it, I know we have the supporting cast for it and I know we have leaders on this team.”
Newington has also had to deal with covid-19 setbacks as the team was forced to quarantine for weeks early in the year. The delay leaves the Nor’easters with eight games in 14 days and the win over the Warriors will give them momentum into the stretch run.
“This is giving us major momentum, especially in time for states, end of the season, we’re playing multiple games a week so we have to feel good about any win we get.”
Newington (6-1) will head to Enfield on Monday at 3:45 p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.