WATERTOWN - After a successful WCLC season, coach Mike Kenny and his Watertown High Schooll boy’s lacrosse team took on some of the best teams in the state in the CIAC’s Class ‘M’ post-season tournament, winning a thrilling 8-7 overtime game in their first match, then coming up just short on the road at Weston High School, 6-6
First Round vs. Woodstock Academy
“The key for us was to play solid defense so we knew it would be low scoring,” said Kenny as the Indians prepared to face #12 Woodstock Academy at the Mills Complex on June 2.
In a back-and-forth game, Woodstock jumped out to a any early lead, with the Indians ewvening things at 3-3 at halftime on goals by Joe LaChance and Evan Smutney.
With under three minutes to go in fourth quarter and trailing 5-4, the Indians had to play some late pressure that actually hurt them and led to another Woodstock goal put the visitors up 6-4 with about 1:30 left on the clock and possibly the season.
With the heat on, the locals responded.
Goal keeper Shaun Haaae, made a 50 yard pass to Smutney who then executed a great fast break pass to Matt Doolan on the crease; he had to jump for the pass and he finished the shot before his feet landed.
An amazing goal, as WHS was down by one goal with a minute to go.
The Indians won the faceoff and called time out to set up an offense. “Our first look was going to dodge from top and take advantage of their slow crease slides and the second look would be to attack from behind the cage with Doolan or Colella at Attack,” said Kenny. Doolan made a great move to his left hand and finished to tie the game with four seconds to go.
In sudden death overtime, the Indians won the faceoff. “We had some great match ups with Toby Koval and Matt Doolan we knew we could produce,” said Kenny. Koval took the first run just missing; then Matt Doolan found Koval on the wing, made a great move on his defender, then made a great fake, scoring with an inside finish.
“Games like this help build a team and a program in front of a great home crowd,” said Kenny.
Quarterfinals vs. Weston
On the blazing hot afternoon of June 5, the Indians, seeded fifth, traveled to Weston to face the fourth-seeded Trojans.
“We had to execute a specific game plan both offensively and defensively to match up with them,” said Kenny.
Watertown bounced back with two straight goals by Bruno Colella at attack, then took a 3-2 lead on a goal by Joe LaChance in the second quarter. Weston tied the score at 3-3 before halftime.
Haase had his best half of the year with 11 saves, but he wasn’t done yet.
“At half time, I honestly could stop smiling, thinking about how far this team and program had come,” said Kenny, himself a program alum.
“We walked off the bus with 16 players and we were going toe to toe with one of the perennial state championship contenders...the guys were playing great, executing the plan and doing it together....amazing.”
Weston added a goal in the third to go up 4-3 but Smutney scored to tie the game again.
Weston struck early in a man-up situation after a fourth quarter penalty. The game stayed close with Haase playing what Kenny called “out of his mind” with 10 saves in the second half.
With less than five minutes to go Weston was ahead, 6-4 and managed to hang on.
“It was an amazing battle and I couldn’t be more proud of these boys and this team<’ said Kenny afterwards. “Many were upset about the game and understandably so as they left it all on the field.
“But they had nothing to hang their heads about; as a program we keep making great strides and we will build on it.”