DANBURY, CONN. >> The anguish on the faces of some of the Mount Anthony wrestlers was palpable as their dual against Danbury moved through the weight classes.
Mount Anthony lost the first seven matches on Monday, made a valiant comeback attempt, but fell, 34-23, against their Connecticut rivals, the Patriots' first loss in a dual meet since the 2011-12 season. And they learned a valuable lesson in the process.
"We all work hard, you want to win them all all of the time, but the life lesson is, what are we going to do tomorrow?" said MAU coach Scott Legacy. "It's not the first time we've lost, and probably not the last, but they have to have a short memory with the emotion, channel it the right way and that starts from the top with me. I need to put this [loss] in my back pocket, figure out a way to rebound, which I've done plenty of times in my career."
The dual started off with a matchup of two New England-quality wrestlers in Ashdin Schaefer and Jakob Camacho at 113 pounds. Schaefer trailed 4-1 after two periods, but escaped early on and added a takedown with one minutes left in the third. In a scramble with seconds to go, Camacho was able to escape for a 5-4 win to start the dual with three points for the Hatters.
Keenan Taylor fell by major decision to make it 7-0 and Calvin Call, wrestling Joe Hulse at 126 pounds, fell 12-8 after giving up a couple of takedowns and a reversal in the last two periods to make it 10-0.
Gage McLaughlin dropped a major decision and Tyler Raetz got into a battle with Jeremy Fields at 138.
After a scoreless first period, Raetz took the lead in the second period with an escape, but Fields scored a reversal to take a 2-1 lead. Raetz escaped seconds later to tie the match at 2-2 and it looked like the match would head to overtime, but Fields got a takedown with 10 seconds to go to edge out a 4-2 win.
"They beat Ashdin 5-4, Calvin Call 12-8, and Tyler looked he was going to win his," Legacy said. "Take nine from them and give us nine, it's a different story."
Danbury coach Ricky Shook said matches like those are why he schedules the Patriots every season — since 2000 — and will continue into the future.
"Last year [at 113] it was a two-point match and Jakob had a broken nose after his last match on Saturday," said Shook, who got his fifth win in 16 tries at the Patriots. "One move here or there made the difference and I don't think either team gets that very often. That's why we wrestle MAU, we want to bang it out, I want my guys to be pushed to the limit."
Chris Meyer lost by tech fall at 145 and Austin Condo was pinned in 3:05 at 152 to extend Danbury's lead to 28-0, one of the bigger deficits the Patriots have faced.
Tyler Burgess started the comeback at 160 pounds with a 6-0 decision to make it 28-3, then Austin Prendergast rolled to a 18-3 technical fall to pull within 28-8.
"We battled back valiantly, and got some wins from unexpected [guys]. I told them it's time for someone else to be a hero and step up and garner the spotlight," Legacy said.
AJ Wright led early in his match at 182 against Matt Adam, but gave up a takedown and three back points in the third period in a 8-4 loss.
Dakota King looked to have pins a couple of different times at his match at 195, but they weren't called and King won 16-13 in a wild match. With Andrew Marquis avoiding a fall, it clinched the dual for the Hatters.
"We barely held on but we did, the kid at 195 came back and stuck us on our back; [we got] a little lucky [it wasn't called a fall]," Shook said. "We won the close ones tonight."
Sebastian Rocher and Calvin Hayford each pinned their opponents to cut the lead to 31-23, but Tyson Sauer lost a 6-1 decision against Ben LeBlanc at 106 pounds in the final match of the evening.
"We'll have no trouble being motivated," Legacy said. "We can beat someone [by a lot] and be in a nice situation, but this toughens us for up for states and New Englands. We can't be afraid to wrestle in these environments."
Mount Anthony travels to Springfield next Saturday for the Super Quad.