WESTPORT — The Staples boys lacrosse team was 5-2 while goaltender JP Kosakowski was sidelined after sustaining a concussion in a loss to Darien late last month.
On closer inspection, the losses came against ranked teams in the state and the Wreckers were prohibitive favorites in all but one of the wins.
Kosakowski returned this afternoon and played an influential role in Staples’ biggest win since early in the season. Kosakowski made two saves in the final 25 seconds to help the Wreckers hold on for a 12-11 win over Ridgefield.
Matt Burger scored what proved to be the winning goal with 2:21 remaining. The Wreckers won the ensuing draw but turned the ball over. The Tigers called a time out with 67 seconds remaining.
“Coming into the huddle, I knew I hadn’t had my best game of the year,” Kosakowski said. “I think a bunch I could have had back. So going down there, big moment, I knew I had to step up. I got lucky; one hit my head, next one, pretty easy shot. We’ll take a dub.”
Staples, which trailed, 10-7, early in the fourth quarter, improved to 11-3 over all and 6-2 in league play. Both teams came into the day locked in a battle with four other schools trying to earn a high seed and first round home game in the FCIAC playoffs, which begin a week from Monday.
In a game that was evenly played, Kosakoswki kept the Wreckers out of overtime and with the third-best record, behind Darien and New Canaan, in league play.”
“I think the biggest thing about JP is he just brings energy and confidence to the whole team,” Staples coach Will Koshansky said. “When he steps into the net, it just raises the level of our defense and the way we play. He’s been a goalie with that senior class forever. Him stepping back in net was huge for us today.”
While Kosakowski provided the late defensive highlights, it was Aidan Best who offered the offensive spark that rallied the Wreckers. After Ryan Colsey had given Ridgefield the three-goal lead, Best answered, the first of three goals in a span of three minutes and 38 seconds. Each of the last two tied the score.
Best finished with four goals and two assists.
“Our coach was preaching not to rush things, we wanted to take what they were giving us,” Best said. “I just saw that they weren’t sliding very quickly so I knew I could make those aggressive moves to the crease and finish.”
Charlie Howard finished with three goals and one assist for Staples, while Burger scored three times.
The game was closely contested, and while the Tigers continued their season-long struggles with draw controls, their defense amply compensated. Ryan Colsey, Kyle Colsey and Luke Winkler each scored three goals for Ridgefield, which is now 7-6 over all and 5-4 in the conference.
“I’m disappointed,” Tigers coach Roy Colsey said. “I thought we played a really good game for 90 percent. We still lost a ton of faceoffs. We probably had the ball 20 less times, there’s nothing we can do about that. But we played great defense. We got tired at the end and Aiden Best, give him credit. He really made some great individual plays against the zone, which is not easy to do. That’s a tough team. They got down three and didn’t quit. Unfortunately we had to win 12 minutes. We were up one to start the fourth and we couldn’t win the quarter.”
There were early momentum swings: Staples scored the first two goals, Ridgefield answered with four in a row and the Wreckers scored two more times to tie the game at 4-4. Ridgefield took a 6-4 lead — Ryan Colsey scored on a sensational over-the shoulder shot — and did not relinquish it until Best tied the score at 10-10 with 5:03 left. Josiah deGrasse put Ridgefield back up but Best answered 21 seconds later.
Roy Colsey blamed himself for a messaging error late in the game that led to the Tigers losing possession on an offsides call.
“I tell my players we have to be accountable and we have to accept responsibility,” he said. “There were plenty of plays we all could have done better but this one is on me and I think it’s important for the boys to know that.”
Neither team led by more than two goals for all but 1:58.
The Tigers should be able to win out in their final three games but are also dealing with the injury to Kai Prohaszka, their best player.
“This has been a tough year,” Colsey said. “It’s been a tough year with injuries, it’s been a tough year with faceoffs. We may wind up being on the road for a first-round game for the first time in I don’t know how long. We still haven’t played a full game but today was closer.”
While Darien will enter the postseason as the favorite, there are five teams in the league that can beat each other on any given day and want another chance at the Blue Wave.
“The FCIAC is very deep this year, very strong,” Koshansky said. “Lots of teams that are battling. I’m glad we came away with this one.”
The Wreckers entered the season with perhaps the highest hopes in program history. They close the regular season next week against New Canaan.”
“This was huge,” Best said. “We had a little bit of a down peak in the middle of the season but we’re peaking at the right time heading into the playoffs and finish strong. We’re setting up for a good postseason.”