Written by Mike Kelly.
Sometimes the sequel is even more dramatic than the original. While the first game between conference rivals Valley Regional and Haddam Killingworth Boys Varsity Lacrosse was exciting, the second game on Tuesday night, May 11, 2021 was a heartstopper. Trailing by two goals late in the fourth quarter, the visiting Cougars staged yet another dramatic rally, tying the game with literally seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately for HK, however, the magical comeback bid stalled in sudden death overtime. The Warriors won the faceoff and scored quickly on a fast break. Final score, Valley 12, HK 11. This was the first conference loss for the Cougars, and their second overall. They are now 7-2 on the season.
Before the game started a moment of silence was held in honor of Boone Miller. Both teams wore a special decal on their helmets in honor of Boone, a young man who tragically passed away earlier in the year. Boone was a friend and former youth lacrosse teammate to players from both squads.
The game began with a fast break from the faceoff X and quick strike for Valley, putting them up 1-0. Soon after HK’s Cal Braren hooked up with his brother-in-arms Nolan Braren to tie it 1-1. Valley again responded with a nice behind the back score from the doorstep, 2-1. HK then capitalized on a man-up opportunity, when Middie Aiden Coleman unleashed an overhead step-down hammer to tie it, 2-2. Valley returned serve with another fast break and quick strike for the 3-2 lead. Moments later Middie C. Braren, working from the X, found his brother N. Braren again to tie the game 3-3.
At the start of the second quarter Freshman Middie Cooper Savoy drew a tripping flag, managed to regain his footing, and fired a strike from seven yards out for the go-ahead goal, 4-3. Later in the second C. Braren (this time without his brother) launched a burner into the upper right corner of the net for the 5-3 HK advantage. Middie Coleman then found Savoy on the doorstep for the one-timer, 6-3. Then, right before the half, C. Braren banged one in off both posts for another score, giving HK a 7-3 advantage.
Momentum began to swing against the Cougars in the third period. Valley scored early in a man-up situation to close the deficit, 7-4. Moments later they scored again on a fast break, 7-5. Then again in the third they found the back of the net on an easy transition goal, 7-6. The beginning of the fourth did not go well for HK either. Valley scored twice quickly to take an 8-7 lead, and suddenly the Cougars were trailing for the first time since the opening minutes of the game.
A goal from HK’s Savoy stemmed the Valley momentum tide a bit, tying the game at 8-8. Attack N. Braren then added another score with a savvy rebound put back of his own shot, 9-8. Valley returned the favor with a bouncer out front, tying the game 9-9, and then scored again with 3:40 left to take the lead, 10-9. The Warriors won the ensuing faceoff and struck again on a fast break, making it 11-9.
The HK Cougars, as anyone who has watched this team this season might expect, refused to go gently into that goodnight. With less than 2 minutes remaining the Braren brothers hooked up again for a score, with Cal feeding Nolan on the left post for the step-down strike. Then, as the clock nearly struck zero, Middie Savoy side-armed a beauty for the equalizer, sending the game into overtime.
If these teams match up again in the post-season, bring your popcorn. It could be one for the ages.
Photos by Liz Griswold.