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The season for both of these teams began against each other. The Stonington High school girls' lacrosse team defeated perennial power East Lyme 13-12 on April 9.
It was the beginning of an unbeaten regular season for Stonington, the start of a rebuilding process for East Lyme, which lost 14 seniors from the previous season's team that went to the state semifinals.
Tonight, top-ranked Stonington (17-0) meets No. 2 East Lyme (12-5) for the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship at Stonington (7 p.m.), with East Lyme's seven-year winning streak on the line.
The boys' championship will begin at 5 p.m., also at Stonington, with No. 1 East Lyme (14-3) meeting No. 2 Ledyard (13-4).
"It's a lot different than last year," said East Lyme's Kendall Roberts, who finished with four goals and three assists in the girls' semifinal victory over Waterford. "We had to work harder at the beginning of the season.
"Now there are things we can pick up instantly when we need to. We can almost read each other's minds. We worked hard to get to that point. One of the best things is we all contribute; it's not just one person driving the team."
East Lyme defeated Waterford 13-6 in the semifnals, while Stonington used a strong defensive effort to top Ledyard 11-6.
"We've got something to prove," Stonington coach Jeff Medeiros said of the final. "We're going to play our (butts) off. ... I was rooting for East Lyme. It's our destiny to play them. Now all we have to do is show up, and by show up I don't mean physically, I mean mentally."
On the boys' side, East Lyme won last year's title 15-9 over Stonington.
Top-seeded East Lyme returned to the final with a 13-6 win over Bacon Academy in the semifinals, while second-seeded Ledyard needed overtime to edge Fitch 8-7.
In their only regular season meeting, East Lyme beat Ledyard 8-4 on May 17.
"We're going to have to play a perfect game," Ledyard coach Mark Farnsworth said. "We're going to have to be really tight defensively. Their offense is very dynamic and their defense is strong."
The Vikings will be attempting to win their fourth straight ECC title, while the Colonels are making their first appearance since 2010.
"Incredibly," said East Lyme's Erik Aarsand when asked about the importance of winning the championship. "Just because we've won it a couple of times doesn't mean that we don't take it seriously. It still means a lot to us."
- Vickie Fulkerson