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East Lyme - Gary Wight had a simple message for his East Lyme High School boys' lacrosse team during halftime Wednesday night.
The Vikings followed their coach's instructions, scoring six straight goals in the third quarter to break open their Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division game against Norwich Free Academy and cruise to a 14-3 victory under the lights.
Wight said the Vikings (3-0, 1-0), who led 5-3 at the break, were holding their sticks a little too tight in the first two quarters.
"We were a little tight in the first half," Wight said. "We weren't playing to our potential and we had to relax and let the game come to us."
By loosening their grip on their sticks, the Vikings tightened their grip on the game.
They also made a few adjustments and got their midfielders involved, leading to a more fluid attack and numerous quality scoring chances. Griffin Woods scored three goals while fellow senior Erik Aarsand added two goals and two assists and senior Nic Page and junior Mark Wojcik had two goals apiece.
Young and rebuilding NFA (2-1, 0-1) looked good early on, playing a physical defense and leading 3-2 just over a minute into the second quarter before giving up 12 straight goals. Sophomore Logan Morin did all the scoring for the Wildcats and senior Turner Moss had 18 saves.
"We need to get in better shape," said NFA coach Kyle Legnos when asked what he learned about his team. "They changed their sets and it was something our guys haven't seen. ... It's our third game of the season and we're still getting things together."
The Vikings also are far from a finished product, attempting to fill the void left by the loss of six All-ECC players. Senior goalie Greg Swenson, a three-year starter, anchors the defense and also provides valuable leadership along with fellow captains Mark Chmielewski and Page.
"We're still growing and still trying to get our timing down," Wight said. "We have great leadership and an outstanding goalie. It's going to take some time to start clicking."
East Lyme's attack started to click in the third quarter. The Vikings capitalized on a man-advantage to start the second half, as junior Evan Opsahl set up Wojcik for goal about two minutes in.
The quick goal seemed to inject some life into the Vikings, who fired in three goals in a span of two minutes, 11 seconds. Junior Kyle Bernard and Opsahl both found the net to increase the lead to 8-3 lead.
When Page scored to make it 11-3, the Wildcats called a timeout. An energized East Lyme continued to dominate possession while Swenson (13 saves) and junior Anders Aarsand (2) kept NFA off the board in the second half. The Vikings held a 45-22 edge in shots.
Early signs point to the Vikings as clear favorites to capture yet another ECC Large Division title. Right now, Wight is more concerned about daily improvement than winning conference championships.
"Everyone comes to play East Lyme," Wight said. "They bring their best game. We can't look past these teams."