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Hawk Laxmen Bounce Back From Opener During Character-Building Stretch Of Games



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Newtown High School’s boys’ lacrosse team followed up a 5-1 loss to visiting Fairfield Warde in the April 6 season opener with an impressive 10-4 victory at defending South-West Conference Champion Weston on April 9.

“Great team win. Our players bought into our adjustments from game one and worked so hard — I am very proud of them,” Coach Tony Fitti said. “Our attention to detail allowed ourselves to generate scoring opportunities. We dodged hard, found space, and played very unselfishly assisting on eight out of ten goals. Our defense clamped down and gave our offense a ton of confidence. Our bench was incredible — they gave us a ton of energy from the opening faceoff.”

Marty Dunn scored a hat-trick, freshman Nick Stockwell — who scored against Warde in his first varsity action — netted a pair of tallies and had an assist, and Marcus Gerace logged a goal and four assists.

Goaltender Blake Ballard made eight saves. Brady Macey had six ground balls, Fisher Stites five ground balls, and Cole Stockwell and Asher Williams both recorded five ground ball scoops.

Following Thursday’s visit from Bethel the Hawks host Masuk of Monroe Saturday, April 13, at 6 pm.

“We have a really tough stretch. We play three very good conference teams in a row. It’s a gauntlet — it’s a good start. It’s going to teach us a lot about ourselves,” said Fitti, adding that this is a character-building start to the season.

Newtown retained much of its defense from last year’s State Tournament-qualifying squad which won its opening round state game against Warde. That strong D helped make this season’s opener/rematch with Warde a low-scoring contest.

“We rely on them a lot. We put a lot on them as coaches,” Fitti said.

Specifically, the Hawks implemented a man-to-man defensive strategy in which the three midfielders do not help the back line but instead cover their men off ball on the defensive half of the field, Fitti said.

“Basically, we play a high-level college style defense and leave our long poles on a defensive island and ask them to play their matchup straight up. We do not give them help from the other three players, which allows those three to take care of their responsibilities,” the coach explained. “If they get beat there is no one to back them up but the goalie.”

Fitti likened the strategy to that of man-to-man cornerback defense with no safety help.

Long pole defenders Macey, Cole Stockwell, and J.J. Haddick, along with newcomer and defensive midfielder Brady Brosius, stepped up and limited Warde’s chances, particularly in the second half when the Mustangs mustered just one goal.

Freshman Luke Gagnon took faceoffs admirably and had some success in his first varsity effort, helping the Hawks gain possession and keeping them in the game.

The new-look offense struggled in part due to the physical nature of this penalty-filled tilt. Both teams were a bit too rough at times and each defense was up to the repeated challenge of killing of roughing, slashing, and holding, and delay of game penalties.

Macey collected five ground balls, Gerace had four ground ball scoops, and Kyle Ruddy had a trio of grounders. Ballard made some big saves to keep the game within reach.

Nick Stockwell, Ruddy, Gerace, Andrew Bradley, Sean Reilly, Gavin Doyle, and Charlie Massett were among players to set up some good chances in the second half but were denied.

The Hawks entered the season looking to find offense from a variety of players after graduating a bulk of its offensive production from a year ago. Fitti noted, following the Warde game, that “you can’t fit a square peg into a round hole” and said it is up to the coaches to get the most out of the players on the field and come up with plays that maximize Newtown’s chances to put the ball into the net.

After the performance against Weston it appears that in addition to its stellar defense Newtown is well on its way to making the pieces fit together nicely on the offensive side of things, too.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Brady Macey defends as goaltender Blake Ballard stands ready to make a save during Newtown’s 5-1 loss to Fairfield Warde on April 6. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Sean Reilly moves up the field with possession.
Luke Gagnon has control of the ball off a faceoff.
Nick Stockwell netted his first varsity goal in the season opener.
Gavin Doyle makes a pass despite falling to the turf.
Kyle Ruddy makes a move on a defender.
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