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Waterford — The Stonington High School girls' lacrosse team routinely practices late-game scenarios. Head coach Jeff Medeiros will put a minute on the clock. It's up to his Bears to find a way to score.
Stonington had around a dozen seconds to work at the end of Tuesday's CIAC Class S semifinal game. Margot Calmar poked the ball loose from Old Lyme near the Bears' net to start one last fast break for her team.
Jenny Sieczkiewicz streaked about half the length of the field with the ball and scored the game-winning goal with 1.7 seconds left to give Stonington a 12-11 win and send it to its first state final.
"We know that it takes eight seconds to score a goal, so we knew that we had time to do it," Sieczkiewicz said.
That's not to say Sieczkiewicz wasn't on edge as she sprinted toward the net with the ball.
"Oh, absolutely," she said with a smile. "I was so nervous. It hasn't hit me yet that we won the game."
Second-seeded Stonington (20-1) will play No. 4 Granby in Saturday's final at Bunnell High School. The time has yet to be announced.
Granby edged No. 8 Bethel in its semifinal 13-12.
No. 3 Old Lyme finished 15-4.
"We were almost there (the finals)," Old Lyme's Allie Buckley said, holding two fingers close together. "We were right there."
Sieczkiewicz had a game-high five goals with two assists for the Bears.
"She's an incredible girl," Calmar said. "Her shot is almost impossible to stop."
Elizabeth Morrison had two goals and two assists for Stonington. Emily Cassata and Hannah Johnson each added two goals and Calmar had one.
Sloane Sweitzer had four goals for Old Lyme and Sydney Cowell had two goals and an assist. Also, Mary Bolles had two goals, Elizabeth Scott had two assists, and Buckley had a goal and an assist.
Stonington had leads of 5-2 and 9-6, but the Wildcats came back to tie both times.
Sweitzer scored on a feed from Buckley to give Old Lyme an 11-10 lead with 1:27 remaining. It was its first lead of the game.
Morrison slid in front of the net with no one near her and tied it on a feed from Sieczkiewicz with 41 seconds left.
Sweitzer won the draw and grabbed the ball for the Wildcats.
Although it's generally tough for a defense to steal the ball in girls' lacrosse without being whistled for something, Calmar pulled it off.
"Our team focus is on our strong defense," Calmar said. "Closing off the cutters and making sure nothing can get in those small places.
"It was easy for (Morrison) and I to close the gap, get the check, and go (on the break) because all of (Old Lyme's) momentum is going one way. For us to upset it and go the other way set up Jenny perfectly for the goal because they didn't have manpower down there to stop it. And even if they did, I don't know if they could've stopped her."
Stonington did almost the same thing in the closing seconds of the first half. Old Lyme tied it at 6 with over a minute left, but Johnson scored off a feed from Morrison with 5.7 seconds remaining.
"I'm really proud of my girls for the way that they played today," Old Lyme coach Emily Macione said. "They scrapped and clawed back three times and they played a great, great game."
Buckley said: "This team has had just an amazing year and out of all four of my years, I couldn't have asked for a better year. Leading this team as a senior captain could not have been more of a pleasure. It was awesome."
Saturday will be the second CIAC state final for a Stonington team. It won the Class S field hockey championship last November, with many of the same players who compete in lacrosse.
"It would be amazing to do it again," Sieczkiewicz said.