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Newtown High School’s boys’ lacrosse team led or was tied with visiting Glastonbury for most of the afternoon when the teams met in the Class L state tournament quarterfinals at Blue & Gold Stadium on June 2. The visiting and seventh-seeded Tomahawks, whose only lead in regulation was 1-0, went ahead again when it mattered most, in overtime, stunning the No. 2 Nighthawks 9-8.
The game-winning goal finished an edge-of-your-seat, back and forth sequence, one in which Glastonbury got possession off the faceoff to begin the four-minute overtime stanza before calling timeout to set up a play. Newtown’s Tucker Garrity took a Tomahawk player off the ball and scooped it to spark a fast break, then passed to Aiden Coleman who was denied point-blank by Glastonbury’s goaltender. The Tomahawks went the other way, only to have a shot ring off the post before inserting the ball and clinching the win when Nolan hit the back of the net after taking a pass.
“They’re a good team. I think we did everything we could,” said Newtown Coach Scott Bulkley, whose lineup bested host Glastonbury 10-7 during the regular season.
The Hawks implemented a zone defense strategy to give the Tomahawks a different look and slow down their usually high-powered offense.
Garrity, Coleman, and Layton Harrell all scored twice; and Jeff Garrity and Declan Sughrue also scored for Newtown. Evan Eggleston had two assists, and Tucker Garrity and Sughrue added helpers.
Newtown broke a 5-5 tie and scored twice in a span of just over a minute midway through the fourth quarter on goals by Jeff Garrity and Harrell, only to see Glastonbury score twice in succession to even things again.
Sughrue, assisted by Eggleston, put Newtown ahead just 31 seconds after Glastonbury’s tying tally, making it 8-7 with 3:20 left. The Tomahawks tied it with exactly two minutes to play and, after gaining possession, held for a final-seconds shot that clanked off the outside of the right post, sending the game into extra time.
“I think we played really well. In a game like this it comes down to little things,” Bulkley said.
A 14-10 Newtown win over Cheshire Class L first-round action at Blue & Gold on May 30 does not tell the whole story. This game between the Nighthawks and No 15 Rams was a back and fourth nail-biter until Newtown scored five unanswered goals in the fourth quarter to seize control. Newtown did not allow a goal for 11:53 from the late stages of the third until the final minute-plus of the game, turning a 9-9 deadlock into a four-goal differential in the process. Tucker Garrity and Harrell both scored five goals in the triumph, Jeff Garrity scored twice, and Coleman and Evan Eggleston added net-finders.
Tucker Garrity noted that Newtown and Cheshire scrimmaged in a competitive preseason matchup, so he wasn’t surprised by how close this game was.
“We knew it was going to be a back and forth game. We just had to be smart and take care of business,” Tucker Garrity said.
Harrell’s fourth goal of the night made it 10-9 Newtown only 1:20 into the fourth. Jeff Garrity finished a fast-break tic-tac-toe passing play, assisted by Tucker Garrity, just 22 seconds later. That made tit 11-9 Nighthawks, marking Newtown’s first multi-goal advantage of the game.
Newtown kept the goals coming.
Harrell forced a turnover behind the Newtown goal with 8:30 left. After goaltender Jake Dandrea made a save with 5:38 left, Harrell cashed in with the change in possession with an unassisted tally with 5:10 remaining.
Strong defense by Newtown made for some difficulty for Cheshire to get clean shots on goal. Jeff Garrity capitalized on Tyler Rising’s interception near mid field and scored for a 13-9 lead with 1:59 left. Coleman added an empty-netter with 1:34 to go.
Cheshire finally got back into the goal scoring column with 1:21 left.
“I think they all stepped up,” Bulkley said of his defenders, including Rising, Cayden Dunn, and Kyle Shirk.
Bulkley said some miscues allowed Cheshire to stay in the game. “We can’t play hot and cold, hot and cold, hot and cold,” the coach added.
The coach was pleased with his team’s overall success, which included a regular-slate mark of 13-3 and run to the South-West Conference championship game; Top-seeded New Fairfield defeated No. 2 Newtown in the pinnacle battle.
“We had so many injuries this year. So many young guys stepped up. I couldn’t be prouder of the team,” Bulkley said.