Waterford, East Lyme will play for ECC boys' lacrosse title again
Waterford — There was a time when merely appearing in the conference tournament championship game was cause for celebration at Waterford High School, where the lacrosse programs remain relatively young.
But now? The top-seeded Lancers walked off their home field Tuesday night with a 14-4 win over No. 4 Stonington in the Eastern Connecticut Conference semifinals, armed with the team-wide belief that getting to The Big One isn't good enough anymore.
"From the beginning of the season," Waterford coach Scott Hicks said, "this is all the kids have been talking about: win the ECC Tournament."
They'll get their chance Thursday night in the best — and perhaps hardest — way possible: against second-seeded East Lyme, not only Waterford's blood rival, but also the cornerstone lacrosse program in the league.
The Vikings didn't get there very easily, either. Scott Galbo's goal with six minutes left snapped a 6-6 tie and gave East Lyme a 7-6 win over No. 3 Bacon Academy.
University of Hartford-bound James McCoy snapped a 5-5 tie early in the fourth period to give his team the lead, but Bacon's Dylan Heald tied it with 6:15 remaining.
East Lyme had a 5-3 lead late in the third period when Bacon scored twice in a two-minute span to tie it, creating quite the entertaining fourth period.
McCoy scored three straight goals for the Vikings at one point.
Now McCoy and his teammates play for another conference title — and to win the season series against the Lancers. The teams split their first two games this season.
"Losing to Waterford helped right the ship for us in a sense," East Lyme coach Gary Wight said. "I know we play all these out of conference teams and everything, but we need to be ready for everyone. Waterford is a great team. So is Bacon. Thursday should be a great game."
Caleb Holdridge led Waterford over Stonington with four goals. Mason LaForte scored three times and Ryan Huta and Kyle Jacobson scored two apiece. The Lancers led 4-0 early and didn't allow the Bears much hope.
"No disrespect to Stonington, but we really didn't want to let them hang around," Hicks said. "We know we can execute."
And now they get the Vikings in the finals, a little more than a week removed from the first win over East Lyme in program history. East Lyme defeated Waterford by a goal at home earlier this season.
"Beating them was incredible for our program," LaForte said. "When we lost to them on their field, that was really detrimental to our mojo. It's still an accomplishment to make the championship game, sure. It's not easy. But we think we have a winning culture here now."
Hicks said, "We were firing on all cylinders last week. When we were down at the half at East Lyme, I told the kids I thought they were overthinking things too much. Don't overthink. Just outplay them. And we won that half. I think that gave the kids a boost of confidence."
No. 1 Waterford 14, No. 4 Stonington 4
No. 2 East Lyme 7, No. 3 Bacon Academy 6
At East Lyme
No. 1 Waterford vs. No. 2 East Lyme, 7:30 p.m.
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