Boys lacrosse: Shelton ready to challenge best in state

Although the season results will speak for themselves, coach Matt Read has already given his Shelton High team quite the compliment – and maybe some motivation to perform at a high level.

“This is the best squad I’ve coached here. We have the most talent I think we’ve ever had,” said Read, who an eight-year varsity coach who has spent a decade with the program. “We came ready to play from day one of the preseason.”

As if those sentiments weren’t enough of a pat on the back, Read went so far as to say this group seems to possess the most talent of any team he’s coached, including at the collegiate level, spanning 24 years.

Consider this: Five of the Gaels have been recruited to play in college.

Jack Carr will play a year at Taft before going to UMass; Jake Roberts and Nick Pavone are both headed for the University of Tampa; Casey Brennan will play at Roger Williams, and Connor Greene is headed to Eastern Connecticut.

“It’s been a very successful three years for these guys,” Read said.

They are looking for the success to continue in their final season at SHS.

Shelton, coming off an 11-5 regular season, bumps up from the Southern Connecticut Conference’s Division II to D-I, and will need this high-level of talent to be competitive.

Most of the 16 teams on the schedule were over .500 last year.

“We play virtually a playoff schedule,” Read said.

Masuk of Monroe, Trumbull and Fairfield Warde are tough non-conference games.

Fairfield Prep, Hand of Madison, Cheshire, Notre Dame-West Haven, Xavier and East Lyme are tough SCC games.

East Lyme won’t compete in the SCC postseason, but splits its schedule between the SCC and Eastern Connecticut Conference.

Two of last year’s regular-season losses were one-goal decisions, including a setback to Guilford in overtime and a loss to North Haven.

With several football players who have had success in both lacrosse and football playoffs, the Gaels have experience in the big spot.

Captains Clayton O’Brien (defender), Jake Falanga (defender) and Greene will provide leadership.

Pavone and Brennan join Nick Pagluiso on attack.

Carr and Roberts are standouts on defense. Greene is a midfielder.

Defenders Joe Agreda, Billy Zaccagnini and Connor McGuire are also expected to make strong contributions.

“We’ve got a very good defense and that’s something I always predicate my team on,” Read said.

Midfielders Jared Sedlock, Riley Brennan and Joey Thompson are also going to be looked to for solid play.

In the goal, Isaiah DeLoatch and Daschel Kline are competing for playing time.

“They’re really pushing each other right now,” Read said.

The Gaels lost in the first round of both the SCC and state playoffs in 2018.

“My goal is to go as far and deep in the playoffs as we can,” Read said. “We’re doing everything to set up for the playoffs It’s a confidence thing, get some good wins under our belt and keep improving. I know they’re up to the challenge.”

Lewis Mills from Burlington visits Finn Stadium on Monday, April 1, to open the season at 7 p.m.