The Shelton High boys lacrosse team used a strong second-half effort to knock off Danbury High, 13-7, in the qualifying round of the Class L state tournament on Saturday afternoon.
In the stifling heat at Finn Stadium, the No. 16 seed Gaels outscored the 17th-seeded Hatters 9-4 in the second half to earn a berth in the first round of Class L state tournament opposing top-seeded Darien High (19-0) on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
It was Shelton’s first victory in the state tournament since a 5-4 victory over Westhill High of Stamford in the qualifying round back in 2008.
“This is a program win for us right here,” Shelton head coach Matt Read said. “We are getting a nice stable base and we are looking to take it to another level hopefully.”
Against Danbury, Jack Gleason powered Shelton (10-7) with three goals, while Jim Botti, Kyle McGinnis, Nick Pavone and Carlos Maldonado added two markers apiece. Matt Wadeka and Casey Brennan chipped in with singles tallies for the Gaels. McGinnis also had two assists and notched seven groundballs.
Jordan Osuch led Danbury (9-8) with three goals.
“Danbury had a tremendous year,” Read said. “They are a class act. They worked their butts off.”
Shelton never trailed in the contest, getting goals from Maldonado (11:24) and McGinnis (:46) before Danbury tied it in the final minute of the opening stanza behind a pair of tallies from Osuch.
After taking a 4-3 edge at the half, the Gaels exploded for three consecutive goals to open the third quarter and never looked back.
“I told them that this team won’t give up,” Read said of Danbury. “They’ll keep fighting and scratching the whole way. So you come out and get two or three goals right away and it’ll put them on their heels and we can do our thing the rest of the way.”
Goals from Gleason, McGinnis and Brennan in the fourth quarter provided the final scoreline — setting up the showdown with Darien — one of the top-ranked programs in the country.
“We have nothing to lose,” Read said.