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Led by the strong play goaltender Kyle Burbank and aided by the scoring efforts of Jack Carpenter, both Newtown representatives, the St Joseph of Trumbull boys’ lacrosse team defeated familiar foe Somers 11-6 in the Class S state championship game, at Brien McMahon High of Norwalk, on June 9.
Burbank made 14 saves and Carpenter scored twice, including a tally to cap a crucial third-quarter flurry of scoring with just one second left in the stanza. Carpenter had late-quarter scoring magic earlier in the game, hitting the back of the net with just ten seconds left in the opening stanza. Carpenter also had two ground ball scoops.
The ninth-seeded Cadets dethroned the two-time champion and second-seeded Spartans and, in the process, avenged a 2016 title game defeat to Somers.
“Last year we didn’t qualify for the state playoffs. We played a grueling schedule, we had three seniors and we had a lot of growing pains,” said St Joe’s coach Brendan Talbot, adding that hard work was put in during the offseason by a hungry Cadet squad.
“We wanted to end out season throwing our stuff in the air,” the coach said.
And as the final seconds ticked away on the scoreboard clock, gloves, sticks and helmets went flying as players on the sideline stormed the field to join their jubilant teammates.
“It feels amazing. It’s redemption from two years ago,” Carpenter said. “We just came out with a ton energy and a ton of heart and we wanted this more than anything.”
Burbank made six stops in the first period, after which the Cadets had a 3-0 lead. Burbank came up with timely stops to thwart any chance of Somers building momentum throughout the game.
It was 5-3 at the half. Somers scored first in the third quarter, a little past midway through the period. The Cadets responded with the next four tallies and carried a 9-4 advantage into the fourth. The teams traded goals in the final period.
Between the two schools — St Joe’s and Somers — one or both of them have reached the Class S championship game each year dating back to 2009. St Joe’s has five titles and a trio of runner-up finishes in that time, and Somers has two title and two runner-up finishes in during that time period. Somers went 14-2 in the regular season.
During the regular campaign, St Joe’s went 9-5 in the challenging FCIAC, which also boasts Class L champ Ridgefield and Class L runner-up Stapes of Westport.
Other Newtown players on the team are Karl Kelly, Matt Carpenter, and Eric Burbank.
A state championship may be a familiar thing for the coaches and seniors in the St Joseph program, which last won a championship in 2015, but this year’s was a first-time state pinnacle success story for the rest of the group.
“It feels great. We worked all offseason for this,” Burbank said. “To finally make it here on top of the mountain is amazing.”