Old Lyme girls edge East Lyme 3-2 with late goal
East Lyme — There was a question as to which team would have the advantage.
There was East Lyme, which played just the night before and lost, but gained some valuable ingenuity. And there was Old Lyme, the defending Class S state girls' soccer champion, playing its first game of the season. Both teams were juggling inexperienced lineups.
The jury was temporarily out on the outcome.
Old Lyme freshman forward Abby Manthous scored the game-winning goal with 8 minutes, 54 seconds remaining Saturday night on an assist by Dani McCarthy, lifting the Wildcats to a 3-2 victory over the Vikings in the second game of a boys' and girls' doubleheader between the neighboring towns.
Old Lyme was 21-1 last season, beating Holy Cross 2-1 in double-overtime for its third straight Class S title.
“They played last night and they played tonight and they didn't lose anything,” Old Lyme coach Paul Gleason said of East Lyme. “The sweeper (senior captain J'Naya Kelly) is a tremendous ballplayer. She's like the wind-up toy with the batteries. She never stops. I'm tremendously impressed.”
“The East Lyme game is always a big one,” said Old Lyme senior Mya Johnson. “To play them on the artificial surface was a scary one (Old Lyme plays on grass). I think it was about energy. East Lyme brought the energy and we wanted to match theirs.”
Old Lyme took a quick 2-0 lead on first-half goals by McCarthy assisted by Summer Siefken with 26:03 remaining and a penalty kick by Johnson less than a minute later.
But East Lyme got a lift from freshman Meredith Healy at the 15:20 mark when Healy whipped a shot, assisted by Caitlin O'Dea, high and to the right past first-year Old Lyme goalie Samantha Gray.
It was the first goal of the season for the Vikings after a 2-0 loss Friday to Waterford and gave them considerable momentum, with a series of runs down the field in the second half.
Phoebe Provencher tied things for East Lyme 5:56 into the second half. Alivia Catanzaro fired a corner kick from the left side of the field that bent from right to left, curling toward Gray. The ball bounced off Gray and right to a charging Provencher, who was able to knock it into the goal.
Upwards of nerve-wracking 25 minutes went by with things tied 2-2.
“Once we put the ball in the back of the net, once we executed … it's like, 'we get it,'” East Lyme coach Rachel Redding said. “I'm very pleased. They played 1,000 times better than they did the night before. They took the experience.
" Last night Waterford played a great game. The Vikes came to play today … and against Old Lyme. (Old Lyme) is just all-over-the-field great.”
Gleason called his team's performance “a little scattered.”
He moved Johnson, an All-New England pick a year ago, The Day's two-time All-Area Player of the Year and the program's all-time leading scorer, to the midfield midway through the second half to try to push East Lyme's forwards to the outside instead of them waltzing down the middle.
There was a great deal of pressure on both defenses in the second half, with Johnson crushing a shot off the crossbar and Catanzaro chipping another perfect corner into the penalty box, this time foiled by a defensive clear.
Johnson also had to be helped off the field late in the game due to a leg cramp.
Old Lyme finished with 18 shots to 11 for East Lyme. Gray made 10 saves for Old Lyme and first-year goalie Avery Owen made 15 for the Vikings.
“They haven't had an opportunity to play together,” Gleason said of Old Lyme. “… It's just going to be about having the younger kids strengthen themselves up, learning not to have fear when they hear feet. We'll work with them on that. We'll be OK.”
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