East Lyme, Waterford boys headed for another ECC lacrosse showdown
Montville — Until further notice, this is an East Lyme High School production. With good reason: The Vikings rarely fail in the Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' lacrosse tournament, last losing to Ledyard in 2010.
Not that dominance necessarily comes easy. Sometimes the other team relies on the precision of the slingshot. And Fitch darn near hit the target Tuesday night.
East Lyme, the tournament's top seed, slogged its way to a 14-11 win in the semifinals and will face blood rival and No. 2 seed Waterford (a 12-7 winner over Bacon Academy) in a rematch of last season's championship game Thursday night at 5 p.m. at East Lyme.
Fitch ran to a 3-0 lead, trailed by one at halftime and even made East Lyme coach Gary Wight affix his hands to his head in either disbelief or exasperation a few times in the second half.
"Fitch found some spots and finished very well," Wight said. "We didn't wake up until things got a little chippy. It was a wake-up call."
East Lyme used a two-man advantage to take its first two-goal lead early in the third period.
Andrew Alden scored five times for the Vikings (10-7) and Connor Schofner scored three times.
"Andrew played great," Wight said. "He showed great leadership on offense and defense."
Wight wasn't necessarily displeased with the outcome, understanding that competitive games mean an ever-improving ECC.
"There's always pressure on us," Wight said. "We have the bullseye. We embrace that. But the teams are getting better in our league. That's encouraging."
Noah Reuling scored four times to lead Fitch, while Bray Wilson and Riley Jordan scored three apiece.
Waterford, meanwhile, used the night's most resourceful goal to take a 5-3 lead at halftime. In the closing seconds of the half, Joe Lillis threw a length-of-the-field pass to Michael LaForte, who scored as time ran out, giving the Lancers some momentum.
"We hit pipe (the post) three or four times in the half," Waterford coach Chris Landry said. "To get that goal at that time was huge. Joe is a very high IQ player. He always knows what's going on. Always thinking."
Kyle Jacobson and Logan Bowdish scored three times apiece for Waterford, while LaForte, Caleb Holdridge and Ryan Huda had two apiece.
The Lancers, in spite of the program's rise and trip to the state championship game last year, have never beaten East Lyme. They came close earlier in the regular season and in last season's final. But close almost stings more.
"It's about execution," Landry said. "East Lyme has a very good program. A tradition. Not just in lacrosse but in every sport. You need a full game to beat them."
And so now the Vikings have a chance to do in lacrosse what they couldn't in basketball a few months ago.
"We'll be motivated," Wight said. "We'll be fired up. Waterford is our natural rival. And Chris Landry has done a great job with that program."
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