Champion Jesuits No. 1 in state

Before he takes his lacrosse and ice hockey skills off to Phillips Exeter Academy in the fall, Fairfield Prep’s David White will take a little time to bask in the glow.
After scoring three goals and adding three assists from his midfield position, White was a big part of the reason why the fourth-seeded Jesuits rallied three times from three-goal deficits en route to a 14-8 Division L boys lacrosse victory over Staples of Westport in the title game played before 1,500 fans at Jack Casagrande Field at Norwalk’s Brien McMahon High School on June 8.
It was the second consecutive championship for Prep, which finished the year with a 19-3 record and a Southern Connecticut Conference (SCC) playoff title.

Coach Chris Smalkas’ team was voted first in the final state media poll, earning every first-place vote after finishing the season 17-0 against state competition.

The Jesuits have now won six of the last eight Class L titles.
“It’s really hard putting this into words,” said White, one of seven lacrosse players who also were on this year’s hockey team which won the Division I state crown over Notre Dame of West Haven.
“Two state titles in one school year, that’s pretty awesome. It means the world to me and my teammates.”
It was Staples, the No. 3 seed, who controlled play in the early stages of the game.
The teams traded first-quarter goals before the Wreckers’ put together a three-goal run for a 4-1 lead with 3:06 left in the stanza.
Prep then rallied behind White and Tim Edmonds. White scored with 1:53 remaining and Edmonds beat Staples’ goalie Lance Lonergan just 48 seconds later, moving Prep to within a goal at 4-3.
Each team had second-quarter goals, Prep’s being scored by Burke Smith, and the Jesuits trailed 5-4 at halftime.
“We knew we had to slow the game down,” Staples coach Paul McNulty said. “For us, it became a game of possession. Once you let them get into that speeded-up, helter-skelter offense that they play so well, you’re in trouble.”
Using their deliberate, time-eating offense to perfection, the Wreckers scored the first two goals of the third quarter and owned their second three-goal lead at 7-4 with 5:50 to play.
Smalkais knew it was time for a change.
“We weren’t winning either the face-offs, or many of the ground balls,” he said. “We’ve done this in the past and we figured it was time to do it again.”
Smalkais moved three forwards to the front line on the next face-off with Andrew Hatton in the middle.
Prep began getting the ball and went on a 10-1 run, including a nine-goal burst.
“We started winning those face-offs and scoring goals,” White said. “I thought up until then that we’d also played some very good defense. And, Connor (Prep’s Connor Henry) was very good in goal.”
Edmonds scored at 4:55, making it a 7-5 game before Staples’ Colin Bannon broadened it to 8-5.
White’s goal with 13.6 seconds left in the quarter pulled Prep even at 8-8.
The Jesuits kept it going in the final 12 minutes with six more goals.
“Our coaching staff really stepped up and challenged the seniors from the semifinal round on,” Smalkais said.
“We put the challenge out there for them. There’s a saying in sports that sports doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
Smith and Edmonds also had three goals for the winners. Brown added two and Riley Hoffman, Austin Sims and Sean Henry had one each.
The Wreckers, who ended their season with an 18-5 record, got three goals from Bannon and Joey Zelkowitz.
Prep outshot Staples, 32-23. Lonergan made 10 saves for the Wreckers and Connor Henry had five for Prep.

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