SATURDAY SCHOLASTICS: Sheehan boys lax gets back on track; Lady Titans take team title at O’Grady Relays; Freyler leads Blue Knights

WALLINGFORD — Sheehan boys lacrosse coach Steve Rossacci challenged his Titans to find their identity after they dropped a pair of mid-week games by a combined five goals.

Behind six goals and seven assists from Tanner Drobish in a 18-7 Saturday afternoon non-conference thrashing of the North Branford Thunderbirds, the Titans have a better understanding of who they are.

“We’re tough as nails,” Drobish, a junior, said.

While Drobish stole the show, he was not alone. Jimmy Stratton scored three goals and added six assists.

The Rutkowski brothers, Luke and Beau, each scored twice. Max Festa, John Gogliettino, Lorenzo DeFilio, Apollo Dubuc and Edward Laudano all found the back of the net as well in the winning effort.

“We challenged them to come back today and really get after North Branford, and I think they responded really well to what we said,” Rossacci said. “They came after them and got the job done.”

The challenge was timely as the calendar turns to May. Sheehan sits at 6-3 at the midpoint of the regular season. There are five Southern Connecticut Conference matchups remaining on the schedule, seven games in total, and the Titans understand what needs to be done in order to accomplish their goal.

“Our goal is always to continue to get better,” Rossacci said. “I think each week we’ve done exactly what we’ve wanted to do. We continue to get better. We continue to do our things that we need to do right with our offense and our defense. We’re getting there.”

The Titans offense was rolling early Saturday when Beau Rutkowski opened the scoring at the 9:44 mark. Older brother Luke made it a 2-0 game a mere 13 seconds later. 

North Branford’s Jake Saldutti scored two of his four goals in the next 1:15 —one on a nifty shot behind his head — to knot the game at 2. But Drobish was there to stop the bleeding when he responded to Saldutti’s second goal with one of his own at 7:23.

“Tanner is coming into his own,” Rossacci said. “He makes himself available. He gets himself in space.”

With a 3-2 lead, the Titans exploded for a 6-0 scoring run that carried all the way until the midpoint of the second quarter.

It started when Drobish intercepted a pass and immediately found Festa for an assist and score. Drobish then scored with 34 seconds left in the first after passes from Festa and Stratton to put Sheehan ahead 5-2.

“We have a lot of weapons on our offense,” Rossacci said.

In the second quarter’s opening moments, Drobish drove down right and by the North Branford goaltender, Dradon Brindisi. The defense, well aware of Drobish’s potential, swarmed the small-statured junior and that left Stratton open on the back side for the easy dump and score.

“His assists are unbelievable,” Rossacci said of Drobish. “He’s got great vision for us with our cutters.”

Drobish dished the credit elsewhere.

“All my teammates: Couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “This is a really good group, been playing with them for a while. They’re my boys and we just move the ball really well together.”

Drobish would secure his hat trick while a man up at the 9:59 mark off a pass from Stratton.

Gogliettino scored unassisted nearly a minute later to extend the lead to 8-2, before North Branford got back on the board with Luke Blomster’s score at 6:00.

Drobish scored his fifth at the 4:34 mark before Stratton scored his second 30 seconds later to close out the first half with a 10-2 lead.

“I love transition; I love playing fast,” Drobish said. “Sometimes we do slow it down, get a little break for the D. But, I mean, our transition is really a big part of our game.”

Stratton’s third of the day opened the second-half scoring at the 9:18 mark. Saldutti’s third score came at the 8:03 mark before the Titans ripped off another run, this time for five scores.

“With our offense, offensive sets and things we do, we have specific things that we do for all of them,” Rossacci said.

Apparently, that includes something for a defenseman to score while a man down.

Following a goal from Lorenzo DeFilio, defender Apollo Dubuc found himself on Sheehan’s end of the field with the ball and open green turf in his eyes. The long pole took off down the middle of the field and went deep into the T-Bird’s defensive zone. The 6-foot-2 Dubuc skipped the ball once on the turf, scored, and immediately jumped into a teammate's arms to celebrate the unlikely shorthanded score.

“Apollo is just a tremendous athlete,” Rossacci said. “He’s our best defensemen down there. He does great things.”

Luke Rutkowski followed up Dubuc’s score with his second goal at the 4:40 mark. Laudano got his to go 21 seconds later before Beau Rutkowski closed the quarter with his second score at 2:14.

After Drobish’s fifth hit the net to start the fourth, Rossacci started subbing in JV players with a 16-4 lead and a running clock.

However, Saldutti scored twice and Jake Palumbo added one, making it a 17-7 game and the clock no longer running. The quick varsity scores against Sheehan’s JV lineup forced Rossacci’s hand.

“Those guys worked hard to get the score to where it was and we weren’t going to let that just slip away from them,” Rossacci said.

With the varsity starters back in the game, Drobish capped off the affair with one more goal with 4:53 to play. 

Drobish and his Titan teammates have their minds fixed on the same thing every other contending team in the state is thinking about: a state championship. 

“We’re hoping to get a great seed for the playoffs,” Drobish said of the second half of the season. “Definitely looking to win that championship. This is a great group to do it with and I think we can do it. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing, especially what we were doing today”

While the CIAC tournament awaits in the not-so-distant future, there’s still half a schedule to play. When asked if he thinks his team can carry the momentum from Saturday’s win into their second meeting with Lyman Hall on Monday, Drobish kept it simple.

“For sure.”

Lyman Hall 14, Notre Dame-Fairfield 5: The Trojans will go into Monday’s rivalry game at 5-5 following the non-conference win in Fairfield. Jack Roberts paced the offense with four goals. Zach Pettit, Dan Pettit, Owen Gray, Henry Murphy and Dan Vega all scored twice

Xavier 12, Southington 6: The Falcons doubled up the Blue Knights at Fontana Field. Southington, which had won two straight, slipped to 5-4. Xavier is 6-3.

Rockville Co-op 10, Meriden Co-op 5: Rockville-Coventry-Stafford (3-6) snapped a four-game slide with the non-conference win over Platt-Maloney in Vernon. Meriden is 1-8.

Girls lacrosse

Southington 12, St. Paul 1: The Lady Knights (8-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season in Glastonbury with the non-conference romp Friday night in Southington.

Gabby Castonguay found the back of the net four times. Lilli Doran and Taylor Foresi had two goals apiece. Makayla Winegar, Meg Daley, Allie Barner and Julianne Bade each had one.

Track & field

Sheehan: The resume continues to grow for the Lady Titans. Impressively grow.

Sheehan finished first in the team standings at the O’Grady Relays in Danbury, one of the top events on the Connecticut track calendar, by winning four events Saturday.

Sheehan sprinters did their job, taking the 4x200 and the 1600 sprint medley, while Erin Brennan led the jumpers and Darla Jagrosse and Madison DiPasquale gave the Titans a formidable 1-2 punch in the throws.

In the sprints, Amanda Castaldi, Patrice Mansfield and Avery Winters combined with Maya Wresien to win the 4x200 in 1:42.54 and with Olivia Platt to capture the 1600 sprint medley in 4:11.89.

The field events were also set up as relays. The Titans combined for a gold-medal distance of 47-11 in the long jump behind Brennan’s first-place leap of 16-7½, Kathryn Lombino’s third-place landing of 16-2½ and Savanna Bauman’s 15-1.

The 16-7½ by Brennan broke the old meet record of 16-6¾.

The same trio earned Sheehan silver in the triple jump. Brennan was second at 35-10, Bauman sixth at 32-9 and Lombino eighth at 32-5½.

In the throws, Jagrosse finished first individually in both the shot put (36-4¼) and discus (118-2). DiPasquale was second in the discus at 113-9, which catapulted Sheehan to the team title in the event.

At meet’s end, Sheehan had accumulated 59 points to Bloomfield’s 56 and Weston’s 54. A total of 25 girls teams competed.

Southington: The Blue Knights enjoyed a fifth-place showing among the 32 boys teams.

Jack Freyler took gold in the javelin at 168-2. With Devin DiMartino coming in fourth at 141-9, the Blue Knights won the event as a team.

They were second in the 4x100 with Justin Zitofsky, Ryan DelMonte, Rashard Williams and Nate Confrancesco. Southington’s time of 43.72 was three-tenths of a second behind first-place Windsor.



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