St. Paul boys lacrosse protects home turf against former WCLC rival Lewis Mills

Erik Suzio motored down the field from defense to offense, and no one from Lewis Mills got in the way of the St. Paul boys lacrosse big man.

Suzio ran right down the middle and fired the ball into the goal, then celebrated in a mid-air bump with Sam Peruta. The goal was emblematic of the effort by the Falcons in the third quarter of Monday’s late afternoon game, when the home team took control at McPhee Field. St. Paul went on to win, 17-13, over its long-time rivals from neighboring Burlington and improved to 5-5 on the season. Suzio was a big reason why.

“Anyone that was here, the performance that Erik Suzio put on, in terms of defending but then also clearing the ball. He had an assist, he had a couple hockey assists. He’s invaluable to this team right now,” said Falcon coach Chris Kennedy. “It’s quite a change of pace where our best player is a defensive player because we’ve had such good offensive players over the years. He really stepped up and has taken the young guys under his wing on defense.”

On offense, Tyson Raymond and Colin Reilly were a dynamic duo.

“Tyson Raymond played great today. He’s a horse, he’s only a sophomore, looks like he’s a freshman in college,” Kennedy said. “Reilly’s got an incredible left-handed shot. I just tell him keep shooting, keep shooting, keep going. Colin’s got a very good shot, he’s worked really hard over the last two years, and he’s asserted himself as one of our main offensive weapons.”

The was close at halftime with an 8-6 score in favor of St. Paul. The Falcons used an improved defensive effort and solid goalkeeping from Matthew Walker to get in gear.

“In the third quarter, we definitely picked it up defensively. I told the kids that we wanted to expand,” Kennedy said. “I thought in the first quarter we gave them a little bit too much credit in terms of their stick skills. We didn’t challenge them enough, and when you give them time, they’ve got some dangerous kids.”

St. Paul played physical on defense, then alternated between pushing the pace and working patiently on offense. Both ways worked for the Falcons, who scored nine goals in the second half. St. Paul tied its season-high for goals, which it set in a 17-2 victory over Capital Prep last Wednesday. The win over Mills was sweeter. The Spartans and Falcons were once rivals in the Western Connecticut Lacrosse Conference before the former moved to the Central Connecticut Conference in all sports.

“Lewis Mills is always a big game for this program. I said to the kids after, and most of them don’t know this: the first time we ever beat them as a program was my first year, and we beat them in overtime,” Kennedy said. “Ever since then, we have never played a game (against them) that hasn’t been contested and tough.”

St. Paul has a little time off in terms of actual games. The next contest is Saturday at home against The Morgan School of the Shoreline Conference.

“We’ve got a couple days in between, but we’ve got Morgan coming up here on Saturday. We’ve got a string of home games,” Kennedy said. “It’s always important to us to protect our home field and kind of create a feeling so when the playoffs come, if we play well enough to earn ourselves a home game, we want to be able to compete no matter where the team in the state is coming from. I think that’s an attitude that starts by protecting your home, and that’s what we’re going to try to do this week.”

VIDEO: Here’s a couple highlights from Monday’s game.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Monday’s game.

PHOTO CAPTION: Erik Suzio (77) and Sam Peruta (11) celebrate Suzio’s goal during St. Paul boys lacrosse’s 17-13 home win over Lewis Mills on Monday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)