Bacon Academy advances to ECC boys' lacrosse final

May 21—WATERFORD — Bacon Academy took a hard-earned step in its attempt to win its first Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' lacrosse tournament title.

In semifinal action on Tuesday, the top-seeded Bobcats played like a team certainly capable of accomplishing the feat.

They leaned on their experience and defensive cohesion to shake No. 4 St. Bernard/Wheeler, 8-4, at Waterford High School. They'll make the program's second ECC title game appearance on Thursday, facing No. 3 East Lyme, which beat No. 2 Fitch 9-7.

Senior goalie Chase Goulet has faith that Bacon Academy can finally raise the title trophy.

"We have the chemistry, the attitude and the confidence," Goulet said. "And we're also humble enough to believe that we take it all the way."

Bacon Academy (14-3) never trailed against St. Bernard, which suffered a pair of one-goal losses during the regular season meetings. The Bobcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the second quarter and a disciplined defense did the rest.

When St. Bernard (10-7) managed to find a crack in the defensive wall, Goulet was there to make momentum-stopping saves, finishing with 12 overall.

"The saves felt amazing because it was a helluva goalie matchup," said Goulet, who praised the play of his counterpart, St. Bernard junior Johannes Zachhuber (14 saves).

Bacon coach Brian Martin credited his team's preparation and commitment for a successful season so far.

"We knew we had our work cut out for us," Martin said, "so we put in some extra time and prepared a little bit more. I've really got to give the seniors credit and the team in general. They're so tight-knit and cohesive and the camaraderie is there that they want to put in the extra time to get to levels that we've never been at before."

The Bobcats put together a complete team effort on Tuesday, controlling the game from the start.

Stationed behind the net, Jameson Pirro set up fellow junior Ethan LoVetere, who scored from the doorstep for a 1-0 lead about four minutes into the semifinal.

In the final 42 seconds of the first quarter, the Bobcats extended their lead to 3-0 on Pirro's unassisted goal and sophomore Troy Johnson's strike.

The Bobcats built a 5-2 lead by halftime and carried a 7-3 edge in the fourth quarter before finishing off the Saints, who had limited quality scoring opportunities.

"Our whole goal on defense is to make them work for goals," Martin said.

Mission accomplished.

LoVetere led the attack with four goals and an assist, while Pirro chipped in two goals and three assists for the Bobcats. Johnson had two goals and an assist and senior Avatar Disher and senior Brady Gould each added an assist.

"Our goal was to get to eight goals," Martin said. "We thought if we could score eight goals that we would be able to hold them under eight. So that's what we had in our head. And we got to eight goals and we did what we needed to do on defense."

Now it's on to the ECC finals for the Bobcats, who lost to East Lyme, 18-14, in their only other championship appearance in 2021.

An up-and-coming program, St. Bernard's season continues in the state tournament. With only one senior on the team, the Saints have a bright future.

Sophomore James Niles led the Saints with two goals, while juniors William Sluggett and Marc Sauchuk each had a goal and an assist.

"Our goals in the preseason were to make the ECC tournament and to make the state tournament because we haven't done that in the five years I've been coaching," St. Bernard coach David Howes said. "And we did that.

"Obviously, we wanted to go further (in the ECC tournament). It didn't work out today. Hats off to Brian Martin and Bacon, they did a great job."