STONINGTON - It wasn't complete redemption from a blowout football loss to Westerly High on Thanksgiving, but the Stonington High boys lacrosse team's 12-2 win Saturday over previously undefeated Westerly was sweet nonetheless for Bear gridders Ben Massengale, Will French and a handful of others who play both sports.
Stonington (12-1) was faster, more creative and skillful from start to finish in a game that was never in doubt. Westerly (12-1) played its regular lineup in the non-league game but could not keep up with French's faceoff mastery and the Bears' offensive execution.
Tyler Simao scored four goals, and Cam Elenteny and Massengale scored three apiece. Ethan Mahoney, another football player, contributed four assists.
"I don't know if it makes up for football, but beating them in lacrosse is all we could do," Massengale said. "It feels good because both teams came in with great records and it's a late-season game so both teams were ready to play. We just wanted to dominate, not get involved in chippiness and let the scoreboard do the talking."
The score could have swelled to 20-2 if not for a record-setting performance by Bulldog goalkeeper Ryder Casady, who set a team single-game saves record of 22, breaking a mark of 19 he held with Isaac Kaufman (2014). Casady was active all game and did his best against Stonington's onslaught of 36 shots.
"Truthfully, Stonington is a fun team to watch because they're so creative with shots," Casady said. "They are the best team we've faced and we learned a lot from this game. I don't think the loss hurts our momentum at all."
Simao got Stonington on the board five minutes in, making a stick check deep in Westerly's defensive end and turning it into a goal from close range.
French won the faceoff and Massengale flung a low shot 16 seconds later for a 2-0 first-quarter lead. Massengale answered with a goal two minutes later, assisted by Ethan Mahoney, for a 3-0 edge.
French, who had the flu and missed Stonington's only loss, a 13-4 defeat against East Lyme, not only won over 75% of faceoffs, he gathered the ball quickly enough to start Stonington's attack with accurate passes to middies.
"Will is a weapon on faceoffs and turning into a complete player," Stonington coach Conor Doyle said. This is French's first full season as a faceoff specialist. He added Stonington's last goal. "He was certainly missed against East Lyme."
Westerly coach Stephen Schaus saluted French's connections.
"In my two years here, he's the best I've seen on faceoffs," Schaus said. "He's also very quick and athletic. Thankfully, our goalie was not good, he was phenomenal today, or else it might have gotten extremely one-sided."
Stonington took a 4-0 led with 6:24 left in the second quarter on Elenteny's behind-the back shot as he crossed left to right. Westerly answered with 1:33 left in the half when Liam Cody fed Mitch McLeod for a goal to make it, 4-1. Simao scored and Elenteny added an over-the-shoulder shot for a goal in the final minute to a 6-1 Bear halftime edge.
Lance Williams scored for Westerly to make it, 6-2, with 6:36 left in the third, but Stonington squashed any momentum with two third-quarter goals by Simao and one by Nathan Mahoney for a 9-2 lead heading into the fourth.
When Westerly got in Stonington's end, the Bears defensive wall of Ben French, Patrick McGugan, Brady Mullen and others locked down the Bulldogs, making life easier for goalkeeper Andrew Whitman. Massengale, Elenteny and French scored goals in the fourth.
"I thought we did a great job possessing the ball and executing," French said. "It feels good to dominate the way we did.
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