NEWTOWN -- When it came time to hand out the Most Valuable Player Award following the South-West Conference Division I boys lacrosse championship, there was one obvious choice.
Because Weston goalie Grant Limone was not only the game's most valuable player, he was also its most versatile. Limone made 16 saves -- and scored a pivotal goal -- to lead the Trojans to an 8-6 victory over Barlow in the title game Friday night at Newtown High's Blue and Gold Stadium. The SWC title is Weston's first.
"We've only been in one championship game before," Weston coach John Mathews said, recalling the 2010 title-game loss to New Fairfield. "I told them to grab it and run with it."
Limone scored an unassisted goal with 3:57 remaining in the third quarter. He gathered the ball in his stick and began inching his way up the field. The Barlow players didn't challenge him, so he kept going. And going. And going. Until he found himself deep in Barlow territory and fired a quick shot into the net. It's a risky play, because it's a long way back to his own crease if he turns the ball over.
"I did the same thing in the first half and they hadn't picked me up," he said. "If they weren't going to pick me up, I was just going to shoot it."
That goal gave Weston an 8-3 lead, which, at the time, seemed like a fairly comfortable advantage. As it turned out, Limone's goal proved to be an important one, as Barlow sniper Nolan Stauffer scored three straight goals to cut the Trojan lead to 8-6 with 8:20 remaining.
That was when Limone's goal-tending skills were put to the test. He made several crucial saves in the fourth quarter with Barlow pressing furiously in an effort to come all the way back. With about 1:20 remaining, Limone made a brilliant stick save on Liam Rooney, who found himself alone in front of the cage with room to shoot.
"They came in with a good game plan," Barlow coach John Distler said. "They slowed us down, they ran their zone and they ran it well. I don't think we were patient enough at times. And then you put their goalie on top of it, who had an outstanding game.
"He played outstanding," Distler repeated, with emphasis. "He's definitely worth a couple goals every game."
Lyle Mitchell scored three goals to lead Weston and Jack Scheufele and Sean Fumai added two apiece. The Trojans scored three goals in 59 seconds early in the third quarter to stretch a 4-2 halftime lead to 7-2.
Stauffer was Barlow's top scorer with three goals. Matt Billy, Jesse Beatty and Thomas Samaritano each scored one, and Barlow goalie Cooper Brown made 10 saves.
"Scoring eight goals against a team this good is huge," Limone said. "The defense played outstanding. They gave me shots I could see. It just feels great to get our first SWC championship."
This may not be the last these two teams have seen of each other. They could meet in the semifinals of the Class S state tournament on June 6. Barlow is the top seed in the tournament and Weston is the fourth seed.
WESTON 3 1 4 0 -- 8
BARLOW 2 0 3 1 -- 6
Scoring: W--Lyle Mitchell 3g; Jack Scheufele 2g; Sean Fumai 2g; Grant Limone 1g; Matthew Brooks 2a; Peter Robbins 1a. B--Nolan Stauffer 3g; Matt Billy 1g; Jesse Beatty 1g; Thomas Samaritano 1g; Peter Meehan 1a; Alex Lockwood 1a; Wyatt Tompkins 1a; Liam Rooney 1a. Goalies: W--Grant Limone (16 saves); B--Cooper Brown (10 saves).