WESTON, Conn. -
Goaltender Grant Limone’s
importance to the Weston boys lacrosse
program was never more evident than in the 2013 CIAC Class S state title game.
After building a five-goal second-half lead, Weston saw St. Joseph's rally to tie the score before pulling out an 8-7 win.
Limone finished with 15 saves, including several stops on one-on-one chances from point-blank range.
Now a senior, the Loyola University-bound
Limone is confident the Trojans are in good position to win a state title for the third time in the last five years, despite an up-and-down regular season.
“We’re where we want to be heading into playoffs,” Limone said. “We hit a little bit of a rough patch in the middle of the season, but we weathered that storm and are getting better every day, which is what you want at this point of the season. I think we are in a good position to make a run in the postseason.”
The “rough patch” Limone referred to came in the form of a five-game stretch in which Weston lost four times: to Connecticut opponents New Milford and Brien McMahon and to a pair of New York Section 1 teams, Pelham and North Rockland.
Limone said Weston learned from those losses.
“To make a run in the playoffs our team needs to be mentally sharp,” he said. “Throughout the regular season, I think our team has lacked mental toughness and mental focus. We have to be mentally ready to play every game because at this point, it’s win or go home.”
The Trojans are hoping the postseason will produce outcomes like the ones they enjoyed in their biggest wins of the season, 7-6 in overtime over SWC rival New Fairfield on April 21 and 10-9 over Brookfield on April 24. Limone had 13 saves - two in OT - against New Fairfield. He had two huge stops from close range among his 14 saves in the Brookfield win, with 10 of his saves coming in the second half.
Said Limone: “The keys to winning those games were simple: Move off-ball on offense, play smart on defense and play with energy.
“Playing with energy and intensity is something I stress and believe in, and throughout those two games we had great intensity the entire time.”
The Trojans’ defense also came up big in both games in support of their 6-foot-3 netminder, who has stood tall as the team’s final line of defense for four seasons. He’s not the only Trojan equipped with varsity experience.
Limone also has big-game experience in other sports himself, having helped Weston reach the CIAC Class S boys basketball final
in 2012-13, a season in which he averaged 6.5 points per game and 5.6 rebounds in 23 contests.
“We have a lot of sophomores and juniors this year that started last year and played key roles in big games,” Limone said.
Limone will be a part of plenty more big games after leaving Weston.
Loyola, which was the No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament, won the program’s first national title in 2012. Two months before the Greyhounds won that championship, Limone verbally committed to Loyola. He joins 2008 Weston graduate Tom Montelli (Duke University) as one of the most decorated players in program history.
“When I visited Loyola, it just felt like the perfect fit academically, athletically and socially,” Limone said. “I felt very comfortable.
“I liked the size of the campus, the location and the emphasis on academics and all of the players were very friendly and went out of their way to talk to me.”
Limone said he’s in much better position now to contribute at the major collegiate level than when he made his college choice over two years ago.
“As you would hope, I think I’ve improved,” he said. “Playing over the summer and fall against good competition has definitely improved my game and made me a better player.
“Having said that," he added, "I have a lot to work on before I am ready for the college game. I need to improve my athleticism as well as my hands and feet.
“And I think the most drastic adjustment I am going to need to make is adjusting to the speed of the college game. The college game is so much faster than the high school game and as a goalie, I think, adjusting to the speed is going to be my biggest challenge.”
Joe Lombardi is media director and co-partner of LaxLessons.com,
a color analyst for the Time Warner Sports Network, and the primary
author of the most recent edition of "Lacrosse for Dummies." Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_lombardi