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05/15/2022 12:00 AM

Branford-East Haven Lacrosse Team Competing with Belief

Junior Alex Milne had 5 goals with 2 assists to lead the Branford-East Haven boys’ lacrosse team to a 17-7 win against Lyman Hall on May 9. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Sound

With a spot in states already locked up, the Branford-East Haven (Bfd-EH) co-op boys' lacrosse team split a pair of recent games to put the team's record at 8-6 entering the final week of the regular season. Head Coach Jim May is looking for his team to continue relying on its senior leaders as the Hornets gear up to make a run in the playoffs.

Bfd-EH started off last week by earning a 17-7 victory at Lyman Hall on May 9. Junior Alex Milne scored 5 goals and had 2 assists for the Hornets in the win. Junior Sean Bosworth had 4 goals with 1 assist, while freshman Gennaro Pompano, who hails from East Haven, scored 2 goals to go with 4 assists.

Junior Matt McNulty netted 2 goals and had 1 assist for Bfd-EH. Senior Cam Paleski had 1 goal with 3 assists in the victory. Senior Kevin Lee, junior Jake Elpi, and East Haven freshman Alex Dombrowski all scored 1 goal, while Jack Linder contributed an assist. Senior goalie Aidan Strebel made 17 saves in net. Freshman Maxwell Rosenberg also saw some time in goal and made a save.

This game marked the second time that Bfd-EH played Lyman Hall this season, having previously earned a 16-11 home victory versus the Trojans on April 21. Coach May knew that his team would be facing a tough test in the rematch. May felt pleased to see Bfd-EH answer the call and sweep the season series with Lyman Hall, led by an exceptional defensive effort from senior captain Cam Paleski.

"We were a little nervous. Last time we played them, it was 16-11. It was a tough game," Coach May said. "We came out flying. It all started with Cam Paleski. He really shut down their top attacker. He took it upon himself to get things rolling. We won a lot more faceoffs than we did last. We spread the ball around well. It was impressive."

Paleski is one of Hornets' four senior captains alongside Strebel, Lee, and Dylan Dupree this season. Bfd-EH's senior class also includes Danny Vaicunas, Dimitrios Gionteris, David McDonald, Nate Mathis, Dylan Torre, Sebastian Verdesoto, Daniel White, and East Haven resident Ryan Sheldon.

Many of the seniors on this year's team have played sports outside of lacrosse. Between their overall athleticism and willingness to buy into the Hornets' system, May said the seniors have succeeded since their first day at the high school.

"The senior class has been successful since they walked in the door. With football, wrestling, etc., it has just led over into lacrosse," said May. "I appreciate all of their families buying in and their sons buying in. It has really grown from there. They do it the right way."

Bfd-EH finished its week with a 7-5 road loss to Amity on May 12.

McNulty, Bosworth, and Milne each had 1 goal with 1 assist in the contest. Lee and Paleski both scored a goal, while Linder had an assist. Strebel made 14 saves in the game.

Despite the defeat, Coach May was impressed with how team battled right through the final whistle versus Amity. May also feels impressed about the fact that Bfd-EH is having a solid season with a roster that only features 6 athletes out of 46 who had any varsity experience entering the year. While the Hornets lost a bit of momentum with the Amity game, Coach May felt that his team's performance showed just how much his team has grown throughout the course of the season.

"We had a couple small things that didn't go our way. But we played them tough. Everyone did exactly what was asked of them," May said. "We're very green, we're very young. But everyone is buying in and doing the right thing, which starts from our captains."

Bfd-EH had recently qualified for the Class L State Tournament prior to last week's contests. Coach May believes that the Hornets made states because they play the game the right way. May also said that his seniors have demonstrated how much they want to succeed this season, and he believes their desire for success is filtering down throughout the entire team.

"I believe we do things the right way, not just any way. That switch either turns them on and they want more, or it turns them off and they want level," said May. "I also believe that our seniors want more. I believe that they've all led in positive ways. That's the reason why we made states."

The mantra for the Bfd-EH boys' lacrosse team is to put everything you have into each practice and game, find a way to conquer your opponent, and then go for the victory. Coach May said that all of his athletes have been adhering to that philosophy while believing in themselves this season. With the playoffs on the horizon, May feels that competing with that type of mindset is what will lead the Hornets on the most victorious path.

"It's about doing everything you can from the beginning of a game or practice to the end, finding a way to take over that game, then finishing, by taking the bull by the horns," May said. "They have bought into that. They love it. It's something they believe in. Their families believe in it."

Freshman Alex Dombrowski and the Branford-East Haven co-op boys’ lacrosse team own a record of 8-6 and have locked up a spot in the Class L State Tournament this spring. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Sound