Joel Barlow boys lacrosse coach John Distler believed all along that his third-seeded Falcons would play 12th-seeded St. Joseph in the Class S championship game. The Cadets did their part, then walked off Brien McMahon High School's field with the trophy after nipping Barlow, 6-5, on Saturday morning.
"I thought we were the two best teams in the tournament,'' Distler said. "They aren't a No. 12 here. They deserved to be here, and we did to. We put on a great game."
Brian Bacarella's third goal with 4:52 left remaining was the game-winner. Brian Sternberg had two goals and an assist for Barlow (16-5). Dominic Lee, Thomas Samaritano and Liam Rooney also connected for the Falcons.
Goalie Zach Upton made 10 saves, while Matt Mohr made 13 stops for the Cadets (12-8), who did not qualify for the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference playoffs after finishing with a 4-6 league record and going 8-8 during the regular season. Mohr made a nice stop late in the game to preserve the victory.
St. Joseph scored three goals in the first nine minutes before Barlow answered. The Falcons scored three in a 3:31 span late in the second quarter for a 3-3 halftime tie. "I think we were a little nervous,'' Distler said. "This is the first time a lot of these kids have been here."
Barlow took its only lead with 7:31 left in the third quarter, 4-3, on a goal by Lee. St. Joseph netted the next two before the Falcons' tied it on a goal by Rooney with 5:27 left. Bacarella answered 35 seconds later with the game-winner.
"We had a good season,'' said first-year coach Distler, whose team was playing in its first state final since 2007. Barlow's only state title came in 2002. "I'm disappointed we didn't get to play for our conference championship and that we didn't win today. These kids have been through a couple of different coaches in the past few years. We finally have some continuity in the program."
Are you surprised Joel Barlow reached the Class S championship game? Start the discussion below!
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.