DANBURY, Conn. -- When the Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling team lost its first three matches and went down 15-0 against Connecticut rival Danbury, MAU coach Scott Legacy remained calm.
"Basically, I told the upper weights, if something goes wrong, don't panic. The strength is up top this year," Legacy said. "They stayed calm, did what they had to do. They won the matches they needed to win and got pins when they needed."
Not sweating the early deficit, Mount Anthony won eight straight decisions en route to a 39-22 dual meet win over the Hatters.
"It's big to get a win here on the road, it's a hard place to wrestle, and the atmosphere is crazy," Legacy said. "It's a pressure situation and they are high school kids."
Things looked grim to start the meet as 2013 New England champ Kevin Jack pinned Dylan LaFountain in the third period at 132 pounds to take the lead early in the meet, and at 138, Steven Beckham followed with a third-period fall of his own against Bailey Willard for a 12-0 lead. At 145, Darren Ruiz-Sauer traded takedowns and reversals with Matt Fields through the first two periods and trailed 6-5 heading into the third period.
Fields scored a near fall to extend the lead to 8-5, but Ruiz-Sauer scored a reversal to make it 8-7 with 40 seconds left. Fields held on, not allowing himself to be turned on his back in the final seconds.
"I thought [the first three matches] were [coin] toss matches," said Danbury coach Ricky Shook, whose team falls 4-10 against Mount Anthony since the rivalry began. "We won 5-of-14 matches, we needed two more."
The Patriots' win streak started at 152 with Noble Shaler against Sebastian Valencia. Shaler was aggressive from the opening whistle, scoring an early takedown to gain the advantage. Throughout the period, the senior worked to turn over Valencia, finally succeeding with seconds left and scoring the fall at 1:56 of the first period.
"Noble's been huge, he's been wrestling for a year and a half," Legacy said. "He believes in himself, he's wrestling within himself, stays to what he knows, and he's composed."
Jacob Woodside continued at 160 with a 5-4 win over Andrew Marquis. Each traded two-point moves in the first period, but Marquis took the lead in the second with a reversal off a re-start. Starting from the bottom as the third period began, Woodside escaped to pull within a point, then took down Marquis with 1:12 left in the third to take the lead. Marquis fought hard for the tying point, but Woodside kept latched on and rode out the win to make the score 15-9 at that point.
The streak continued at 170, where Damon Young blanked his opponent, 6-0, with points in all three periods. Austin Price then scored a grueling 4-3 sudden victory win over Johnny Garcia at 182 to erase Danbury's early lead.
After a scoreless first period between the two New England place finishers from a year ago, Price scored an escape for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Garcia rolled through from the bottom and reversed to go up 2-1, but Price escaped seconds later to send the match to overtime.
"I knew I could get out, but I didn't think I could hold him down that well," Price said. "I was nervous when he reversed me in the third period, I just wanted to get out."
Neither could score in the first OT, but Garcia did in the next OT to take the lead. In the next 30 seconds, Young escaped to re-tie the match at 3 and send it into sudden victory. By scoring first in the match, Price had the choice to start on top or bottom, so choosing bottom, he finally got away for the victory.
"I knew I could beat him," Price said. "I've won a lot of close matches, I know I'm more conditioned.
I tried to get out , he latched on my ankle, so I was jumping, kicking, crawling, doing anything to get out."
Price's win tied the meet at 15-15, and kept Mount Anthony with all the momentum heading into the heaviest weights.
"With Austin and Johnny, it's two great athletes matching wit and skill, a chess match," Legacy said. "Us scoring first was critical, we had [the position] choice. I reminded him that we have choice, don't do something crazy."
Tyler Mattison pinned Marcus Joyner at 195 after a massive double-leg takedown to give Mount Anthony a lead it wouldn't relinquish, Jack Luciano battled and won 6-4 over Tristan Jakobsen at 220, while Jesse Webb overwhelmed Earnest Roberson at 285 with a first-period pin.
Calvin Call took a 4-1 first-period lead against Christopher Sam as the lineup turned over and continued to pour it on, finally falling Sam at 3:13 to clinch the dual for the Patriots.
The MAU streak ended as Jeremy Fields decisioned Tyler Raetz at 113. Troy Gassaway beat Justin Peterson at 120 and Chris Bryant scored a major decision, 10-2, over Rachel Hale at 126.
"It always comes down to little stuff between Mount Anthony and Danbury," Shook said. "They wrestled well, hopefully we can get them at New Englands."