Sophomores have been super for Stonington
Waterford — Stonington High School's preseason preview for girls' lacrosse centered around its sophomores.
"The Bears have only three seniors, but there is young talent and their development will determine if they are a factor in the Division II race," was the outlook, originating from Stonington coach Jeff Medeiros.
Medeiros added to that after Thursday night's 15-13 victory over Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II rival Waterford, which left the Bears unbeaten at 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the league while handing Waterford its first loss.
"Coming into the season I said, 'I don't know what I'm going to get from my sophomores,'" Medeiros said. "The sophomores are going to be the difference. ... They're great."
Stonington got four goals Thursday from sophomore Hannah Lamb, two days removed from getting the game-winning goal from sophomore Emma Sabbadini in a 6-5 victory over another ECC Division II team in Bacon Academy.
Against Waterford, center midfielder Kate Johnson gave the Bears momentum with a fair number of draw controls and finished with two goals and four assists. Johnson? A sophomore.
"This is a great week," Medeiros said. "Bacon (last year's ECC tournament runner-up) was a big win and this is an even bigger win. ... You know us and Waterford; it's always a battle."
Waterford (4-1, 2-1) shared the ECC Small Division title along with Stonington last season. This year, in the conference's new three-division format, the Bears and Lancers are joined in Division II by Bacon and Woodstock Academy, both formerly ECC Large Division teams.
"We were so excited," Lamb said of the latest win over Waterford, who, joined by Sabbadini for postgame interviews, could scarcely get the words out fast enough ... and likewise for her fellow sophomore. "We wanted to keep shooting and shooting."
"With four minutes left, Lauren (Turner) had an interception and she gave it to Hannah and Hannah gave it to me," Sabbadini said of the Bacon game-winner.
Lamb and Sabbadini then paused to high-five over serving as the game-winning combination against Bacon.
"(Wednesday, we scrimmaged all practice," Sabbadini said. "We're passing it down the field a lot more, trying to get the ball to move a lot faster."
The Bears did just that against Waterford, striking quickly. In the first half, for instance, Waterford turned the ball over with 45.3 seconds remaining and Stonington scored a goal by Lamb from Johnson with 41.8 seconds left to make it 8-5.
In the second half, Waterford, fighting to stay in the game, scored on a goal by Meghan Foley to pull within 14-11 with 4:42 to play. A textbook passing combination brought the Bears right back down the field to counter that, though, with Zoe Robert finding Lamb directly in front of the Waterford goal to push the lead back to 15-11 just 27 seconds later.
The Bears outshot Waterford 34-18.
Margit Burgess added four goals and an assist for Stonington. Sabbadini had two goals and two assists, Cat Cassatta two goals and Robert a goal and three assists. Burgess leads the Bears with 20 goals and four assists for 24 points, followed by Sabbadini (14 goals, 8 assists, 22 points), Lamb (15 goals, 3 assists, 18 points) and Robert (7 goals, 11 assists, 18 points).
Julia Gigliotti had six goals for Waterford, Jacklyn Lavoie three and Mary Grace Wyatt two goals and one assists. The Lancers play Stonington again on May 16 at Stonington.
"They're in the spotlight. I want to keep them rolling," Medeiros said of the excitement of the sophomores during and after Thursday's game. "... I told (the team) before the game, 'This is a big chance for us (to take the lead in the ECC).' They're really clicking. They're looking good right now."
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