Hoping to capitalize on a big win over St. Joseph earlier in the week, the Ludlowe boys lacrosse team battled hard against a strong Wilton team at home on Saturday, only to come up short.
The Falcons suffered a 13-9 loss to fall to 7-6 with three games remaining in the regular season. Ludlowe needs to win only one to clinch a berth in the state tournament.
"We were flat in the first half," Falcons defensive coach Scott Bartush, "and that hurt us."
Indeed, the two halves were strikingly different with the Wilton holding Ludlowe scoreless in the first two quarters. The Warriors led, 6-0, at the intermission.
Wilton made a statement early when junior Michael Serpa scored on a feed from Michael Francia a minute into the match. Warriors senior Dan Bartram tacked on another one 30 seconds after that.
The first quarter ended with the Warriors dominating the Falcons on take-aways and sitting on a 3-0 lead.
Throughout the second quarter, Ludlowe's Henry Boyd was solid on defense and goalie Graham Ward made several outstanding saves, but the Falcons' offense still wasn't clicking.
The Warriors added three more goals in the second quarter and appeared to be walking away with the game with a six-goal lead at the break.
But the second half was a different story.
The half began with Ludlowe senior Connor Charles controlling the ball from the faceoff and seconds later making a lightning strike past Wilton's goalie for the Falcon's first goal.
Finally, the Falcon offense was tuned in, controlling the pace and beating Wilton to the ball. Ludlowe's Jack Kreitler scored his first goal of the day two minutes into the quarter with an assist from middie Nate Ryan.
Time of possession was heavily in favor of the Falcons now. Ryan tallied a goal of his own and Kreitler added another. Ludlowe's Sam Cannella then scored on a feed from Charles to pull the Falcons within one.
The Warriors answered with a goal of their own, but momentum clearly favored the Falcons. The third quarter ended with Wilton leading, 7-5.
With the game on the line, both teams played a scrappy, hard-fought fourth quarter. Charles added another Falcons' goal one minute into the quarter to once again cut the Warrior lead to one.
That proved to be Ludlowe's high water mark. Wilton responded with a flurry of goals from Francia, Bartram, and sophomores Chris Nugent and Connor Devane.
And while Justin Brown added one for the Falcons and Kreitler tacked on two more to make his total four for the day, Ludlowe couldn't overcome the Warriors onslaught.
When asked what changed for Ludlowe at half time, Kreitler explained, "Coach made it clear to us we had to beat them on the ground balls, the ground balls were key. And, of course, we really had to work hard."
Coach Bartush concurred, saying, "If we work on our transition game and play our own defensive system, not theirs, we can be very effective. Hopefully, we'll see Wilton again in the playoffs."