Fast start carries East Lyme past Stonington in girls' lacrosse
East Lyme — Last season, Morgan Crandall was a sophomore on the Eastern Connecticut Conference champion East Lyme High School girls' lacrosse team, spending a good amount of time behind all-state attacker Elena Hynes.
“They were always the big girls,” said Crandall of last year's senior class. “I'm try to be as good as them. They seemed to push me a little more … right through this year. Someone who really inspired me was Elena Hynes, although she always played behind the cage and I'm more up top.”
In an ever-evolving front line for the Vikings — East Lyme has found the firepower to win 11 straight ECC tournament titles — Crandall seems to have found her place. At least she did Thursday.
Crandall and midfielder Julia Bates, both juniors, each scored four times for the Vikings in a 14-9 victory over Stonington in what was a rematch of last year's ECC tournament championship game.
East Lyme (5-1) jumped out to a 7-2 lead over Stonington and led 9-4 at halftime behind three goals each from Crandall and Bates. The teams played evenly throughout the second half, each scoring five goals, making the early barrage even more valuable for the Vikings.
Olivia Facchini added three goals and two assists, Karlie Rowe had two goals and Hannah Gellar finished with three assists for East Lyme. Maya Rose made 10 saves in goal.
Hannah Lamb had three goals for Stonington (3-3), Kate Johnson had two goals and an assist and Emma Sabbadini had a goal and two assists. Backup goalie Faith Gately made six saves, several down the stretch, in place of the injured Molly Banks.
Crandall also had three goals in a 16-7 victory over Waterford on April 14, having her two most prolific games as a scorer since moving up top from playing previously behind the goal.
“They face-guarded (Karlie) tonight; that's what Stonington does,” East Lyme coach Phil Schneider said of Rowe, also a Class M all-state selection last season. “They took her away … Morgan stepped up. We had her behind the goal, but Caroline (Healy) is comfortable playing there. We have her and Maeve (Counter) behind.”
“We've been trying to get off to a good start. It felt pretty good to get those in there,” Crandall said.
Lamb scored to start the second half, pulling the margin within 9-5.
Facchini, however, then scored two straight goals, three in all in the second half, to give the Vikings a little more room to manipulate, pushing the lead back to 12-5.
Sabbadini and Johnson scored back-to-back goals for the Bears, who pulled within 12-7, but Facchini scored again on a free position to keep the Vikings' offense moving. Facchini is part of a veteran midfield for East Lyme, including Bates and Gellar.
East Lyme next has nonconference games scheduled against Hand, Conard and Lauralton Hall before meeting Norwich Free Academy on May 1, what will be the Vikings' first ECC Division I game of the season.
“We get everybody's best game whenever they come,” Schneider said. “We did from Waterford last week, we got a good game today from Stonington. We've got to play well. We've got some tough nonconference games, but these girls are ready to be challenged.”
It was the third straight loss for Stonington, which also fell to Old Saybrook sand Fitch, but coach Jeff Medeiros said he is pleased going forward after what he called some “internal issues” that have affected the team.
“We had some bad games. We've been working it out. Plus East Lyme's always tough,” Medeiros said. “They jumped on us, but we found our way. We had a great second half of the first half and for the whole second half. We came back. The defense started clicking.”
The Bears play at home Saturday against Chariho.
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