WESTPORT — Bruce Springsteen belting out the lyrics to Glory Days could be heard through the small opening in the door leading to the Staples boys lacrosse team’s locker room, which overlooks the school football field, late this afternoon. Minutes earlier, in a game given measuring-stick urgency, the Wreckers had come away with a convincing 7-3 victory over New Canaan, an FCIAC blue-blood program.
The Staples players have challenged themselves to take that second-to-last and perhaps most difficult step this season, to prove they can be consistent league contenders rather than milling on the cusp.
So how did the Wreckers look to open the season? To quote Larry David, Pretty, pretty good.
“We already knew we were an elite team but we knew around the FCIAC and around Connecticut people didn’t respect us as an elite team, so we knew going into this game this was the time to show the world who Staples really is,” said Kevin Lynch, one of the leaders of a tremendous defensive effort that was the key to the outcome. “We’re expecting big things this year so it’s a good start.”
The Wreckers got goals from six different players, but it was the defense that really stood out, let by goaltender JP Kosakowski, who finished with 14 saves.
“It feels good to get a good win like that,” Staples coach Will Koshansky said. “JP is a guy who’s waited his time to be the starter and we knew in the preseason and early season that he was a pretty darned good goalie and we were excited to see what he would do in games. He really stepped up. To hold a great offense like they’ve got to three goals is awesome.”
Koshansky, who thought he might miss the game because his wife is due to give birth at any time, was treated to a strong all-around performance by his players. They took a lead just 1:13 in and never looked back. Thanks to Henry Dodge the Wreckers had the edge in faceoffs and controlled time of possession.
“I think our offense was clicking and we got a lot of good looks,” Koshansky said. “I was excited to see us progress. Henry was unbelievable. We have a lot of faith in Henry and our faceoff wings to get that done. Their faceoff guys are usually pretty good but Dodge was just better today.”
The Wreckers did a good job containing Chris Canet, the Rams’ outstanding midfielder and one of the state’s elite players. Canet scored all three of New Canaan’s goals, but opponents this year will find that an accomplishment. The confluence of events led to limited touches for Canet.
“I think Staples played great, their goalie was phenomenal,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “We were three for 28 shooting and he made a lot of big saves. Credit their aggressiveness, credit their defense, credit their goalie, their faceoff guy I think won every faceoff. They kicked our ass today.”
Aidan Best opened the scoring for Staples and Derek Sale ripped a goal with 20 seconds left for a 2-0 lead after the first quarter. The lone negative for the Wreckers is Sale later tore a hamstring. The severity has yet to be diagnosed and will determine his status for the remainder of the season.
Best’s second goal put the Wreckers up 3-0 early in the second quarter before Canet finally struck. Staples’ Leo Sequentia and Canet traded goals to make the score 4-2 at the half.
Charlie Howard scored on the opening possession of the second half and Tyler Clark and Dodge struck six seconds apart late in the third quarter to put Staples up 7-2.
The Rams were unable to gain any traction or put the Wreckers in a pressure situation.
One game is hardly sign for panic, and Buzzeo — the Rams are the reigning FCIAC champions — was pragmatic about the outcome.
“Look we’ll get better,” Buzzeo said. “It’s one game and we’ll learn a lot from it. I’m not worried about it, I’m not in panic mode, we’ve got a lot of good players. We’re still figuring out which guys need to be where and we’ve got plenty of season. I expect this team to get a lot better throughout the season. We’ll be fine.”
Similarly, there were no requests from Koshansky to turn the music down in the locker room so he could place an early order of championship rings. Instead there is a feeling of earned confidence.
“I’ll be honest with you we don’t really talk about that stuff. We know who we are,” Koshansky said. “We believe where we belong and everybody outside this program can have their own opinion about where Staples belongs. We feel we are one of the top teams and that’s what we care about.”