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After losing to Guilford the first time around this spring, Branford girls’ lacrosse faced the Indians again on May 14 with much greater stakes for a win would propel Jackie Alessi’s team into the state tournament. The Hornets indeed got the win they needed in the rematch as sophomore Caroline Murphy scored from senior Nicole Luzzi in overtime to lift Branford to a 7-6 triumph at Guilford on the opposition’s Senior Night.
The Hornets led 6-3 late in regulation before Guilford scored three straight goals on penalty strokes to send the contest to the extra frame. Although the Indians had momentum, Branford promptly squashed it when midfielder Murphy took a pass from Luzzi and fired it right past the head of Guilford’s goalie, after which the Hornets killed the last 1:40 of OT and then engaged in a crazed celebration.
“The girls were fired up. They worked extremely hard, our defense was stellar, and we played like the unit we’ve been waiting to see. I’m happy for the girls and proud of them,” said Coach Alessi, whose team beat Trumbull 13-4 two nights later to go 8-8 for the regular season. “We expect to make the playoffs and it’s a letdown if we don’t so it’s a good feeling that the season isn’t over yet. Now, we want more.”
Luzzi, an attacker, netted two goals and dished out two assists for Branford, which also received two goals and one assist from Caitlin O’Brien, a goal with an assist from Jenny Royka, a goal by April Simmons, and an assist from Jessie Severino.
O’Brien captains the Hornets with defender Alicia Mortali, midfielder Kara Doyle, and Kailey Hassan-Wolf. Branford’s two other seniors are Luzzi and starting goalie Olivia Leone.
“Our captains have been extraordinary, both on and off the field. They know when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to get the team focused and push people to do well. They’re great kids and good role models for the younger athletes coming up,” Alessi said. “Olivia has played phenomenal in goal. She had 20 saves in a game with Cheshire and also played well against Guilford. She’s playing the best lacrosse I’ve ever seen her play.”
Leone made 17 saves in the Trumbull victory, a game which saw O’Brien scored four goals with an assist with Luzzi notching three scores. Additionally, Simmons scored a goal with three assists, Severino scored twice, Kara Nardella had a goal with an assist, and Royka and Doyle each added goals for the Hornets.