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Trailing by two goals in the waning seconds of the third quarter, and held scoreless in the half to that point, Newtown High School’s boys’ lacrosse team’s fortunes changed in a hurry and the Nighthawks overcame visiting New Milford for an 11-9 win the South-West Conference tournament quarterfinals on May 18.
A goal with just 8.7 seconds left in the third quarter, made it an 8-7 game, and an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Green Wave, issued against New Milford as the Hawks celebrated the momentum-shifting net-finder, led to the game-tying tally early in the fourth and the third-seeded Hawks reeled off five unanswered goals to avert an upset at the hands of the sixth-seeded Green Wave.
The game was even at six apiece at the half before the Wave scored twice in the third. Evan Eggleston spotted a wide open Scott Bauer for the goal late in the third.
The penalty gave Newtown possession, rather than the teams squaring off for a faceoff, and the Hawks took advantage of the manpower opportunity and possession as Tucker Garrity cashed in only 20 seconds into the final stanza.
The penalty and possession was particularly significant considering the Wave dominated draw control, winning 75 percent of the faceoffs.
Garrity’s goal was his fourth of the game, on Eggleston’s fourth assist of the night, making for the fourth and final tie of the evening. Newtown struck again just 16 seconds later.
Layton Harrell scooped the ball after the Hawks created a midfield turnover, and Harrell raced to the goal, and clanked a shot off the post and in for a 9-8 lead.
Down a player as a result of a penalty, Newtown held the lead when goaltender Mason Colon made a key save with ten minutes to play.
Eggleston scored for a 10-8 lead with 8:27 to go, and Eggleston put another one in late in regulation. The Wave scored with 4.9 seconds remaining, but the game was already on ice.
Garrity and Eggleston both finished with four goals, Harrell registered two, and Bauer had one. Eggleston logged four assists, Garrity had three, and Harrell added a helper.
Newtown Coach Scott Bulkley said he was impressed with the play of New Milford faceoff specialist Nate Capriglione.
Newtown had beaten New Milford 16-7 during the regular season. Bulkley thought the closeness of the rematch came down to a combination of factors.
“They were ready to play,” the coach said of the Green Wave, adding that his young team may have been caught thinking about the semifinal round. “You’re fighting not to look ahead at Tuesday night. I think that creeps in your head.”
The defending conference champion Nighthawks earned a semifinal-round visit to second-seeded New Fairfield on Tuesday, May 23, beginning at 7 pm.
The Hawks handed New Fairfield its only loss in conference play this spring.