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East Lyme girls win ninth straight ECC lacrosse championship

Waterford — East Lyme had to pull itself together Friday.

The Vikings were a bit erratic in the first half of the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' lacrosse final. They started a slow and weren’t playing cohesive enough. They were also being pressed by a Waterford team determined to make its first championship appearance a memorable one.

East Lyme righted itself in the second half and pulled away to win 15-9, maintaining its dominance in the conference.

It was the ninth straight title for the top-seeded Vikings (14-4), who outscored the No. 2 Lancers in the second half, 7-3.

“Sometimes we play a little too selfish and we don’t remember that our team is always going to be there, and that we just have to trust them,” East Lyme senior Belle Kenny said. “When we came out at halftime, we talked a lot about not being selfish and working as a team.”

Classmate Vanessa Vurno said, “We’ve always had that trust throughout the season, but this just proved it by winning the ECC championship.”

Vurno had a game-high five goals and three assists to earn the James J. Courtney Most Outstanding Player award.

“Vanessa has played well the last couple of games,” Vikings coach Phil Schneider said. “She’s kind of stepped it up in terms of her attack to the cage, which opens up opportunities for her to feed and get those assists, too.”

Stephanie deLaforcade had three goals and an assist and Riley Aspinwall scored twice for East Lyme. Kenny added a goal and an assist, and Gaby Fiengo, Nina Sanfilippo, Stacey Brodeur and Hailey Gordon all scored. Alex Rose also stopped eight of 17 shots.

Riley Dimmock had three goals and Ava Guthrie added two goals and an assist for Waterford (14-4), which has enjoyed its best year to date.

“I didn’t know what expect at the beginning of the season,” Lancers coach Audrey Montanaro said. “I knew we had strong players, but I was not sure where they’d all fit and what strengths would come out. I’m very, very pleased and proud by how they’ve played all season.

“To take on a team like East Lyme and play as well as we did gives us all the confidence going into the (state) tournament.”

Sarah Lamothe added two goals, Mary Grace Wyatt a goal and an assist, and Leah Petrini a goal for Waterford.

Neither team could distance themselves from the other in the first half. Brodeur scored to give Vikings a 7-5 edge with 5 minutes, 47 seconds left for the last goal of the half.

“We came out and we weren’t exactly prepared for what we were coming in to,” Kenny said. “I think we were kind of like, ‘We’ve got this, then we got a shock.’ I think in the second half, we kind of remembered our roots and what we had to do, and what we knew how to do.”

DeLaforcade jumpstarted East Lyme with over 19 minutes left in the game as she was awarded free position in front of the net on consecutive possessions. She scored both times, increasing the Vikings lead to 9-5 in a mere 33 seconds.

Kenny and Vurno scored within 25 seconds of each other to increase East Lyme’s edge to 11-6 with over 14 minutes remaining.

“In the second half, we couldn’t keep up,” Montanaro said. “They had a beautiful transition game and they were able to hit the open girl, and we weren’t able to get back fast enough.”

Kenny said, “We finally got ourselves together, and it started rolling."

n.griffen@theday.com

Twitter: @MetalNED

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