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Old Lyme — He plays hockey for the Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, where Machlan Sawden is a prominent forward and creating a possible college path for himself.
But Sawden's job for the Old Lyme High School boys' lacrosse team is a different one, as a long stick midfielder. On Saturday, with No. 3 Old Lyme playing without leading scorer Henry Hunt (84 goals, 40 assists), that job was to help stop No. 6 East Catholic in the quarterfinals of the Class S state tournament.
It almost worked.
Old Lyme, trailing by three goals early, limited East Catholic to one goal in the second half before falling 6-5.
Old Lyme's Jacob Watts-St. Germain scored with 2 minutes, 20 seconds remaining to pull the Wildcats (15-3) within one.
"Our defense stepped up," Old Lyme coach Mike Murphy said. "Six to five is very low-scoring lacrosse. Our offense didn't execute the way we hoped. It was one of those tough games. But the defense had some great senior leadership.
"Machlan is our captain along with (goalie) Seth Rohrberg. He was great today."
Hunt, a sophomore, was ruled ineligible by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for an infraction that was self-reported by Old Lyme. The Wildcats learned he was unavailable just before game time.
That put extra pressure on the defense, which was more than up to the task.
Unfortunately for Old Lyme, the East Catholic defense, playing a 3-3 zone according to Murphy, was tough to solve, as well.
"It comes down to in a zone defense, you have to get the ball to people in the gaps," Murphy said. "We needed to improve our movement off the ball and move the ball quicker.
"... It's always difficult not having an 80-goal scorer with you on the field. But we're a team anyway. They understand that above any individual, we've got to play as a team. Our system of play is that we're the sum of our parts."
East Catholic led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, getting a pair of goals eight seconds apart in the final minute.
Old Lyme made it 5-3 with 46.2 seconds left before halftime on a goal by Ashton Bohan and the Wildcats made it 5-4 five minutes into the third quarter on a goal by Joab Hunt, assisted by Bohan. The Wildcats also hit the side of the goal twice in the quarter.
But East Catholic got what would prove to be the decisive goal from Thomas Fan with 1:16 to play in the third when Fan ran from left to right across the field and sidearmed a shot past Rohrberg.
After Watts-St. Germain pulled Old Lyme within 6-5, the Wildcats never got the ball back, with Sawden picking up a holding penalty in the last minute trying to force East Catholic to give up possession.
"We had to go all out to try to get the ball," Sawden said. "I'm proud of everyone, on offense what they did. Everyone stepped up. ... We have nothing to hang our heads about. We played a great game until the end."
Watts-St. Germain and Bohan scored two goals each for Old Lyme.
Billy Heaney scored twice for East Catholic, which will play No. 7 Brookfield in the semifinals Wednesday.