East Lyme's fifth defender, goalie Maya Rose, helps lead lacrosse team to Class M semis
East Lyme — If the conversation revolves around defense, and honestly, there's plenty of justification for that this week where the East Lyme girls' lacrosse team is concerned, then it unquestionably includes senior goalie Maya Rose.
Rose, said East Lyme coach Phil Schneider, "controls things" even when she's not necessarily making a save.
That's what Rose did Thursday as the fifth member of a senior-laden defense, helping No. 3 East Lyme to quash a potential comeback by No. 6 Fitch to secure a 13-9 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class M state tournament.
East Lyme (15-3) meets No. 10 Masuk in Monday's semifinals at a site and time to be announced after Masuk advanced to the semis with a 12-10 win Thursday over No. 2 Tolland.
"Six years," Schneider said of the Rose family goalie legacy at East Lyme, with Maya's sister Alex starting for four years, followed by the last two from her sister. "And we had Jane Bartlett four years before that. I've been blessed in my 10 years."
Fitch, which finished the season 12-5, returns everyone on its roster for next year except three graduating seniors. The returnees will include Maggie O'Leary, who led the Falcons with four goals and two assists, and Rita Sefransky, who dominated on the draw against East Lyme.
The Falcons, however, despite scoring 17 goals in an opening-round win over Brookfield on Tuesday, struggled to find any semblance of an attack in the first half.
East Lyme led 4-0 with 12:02 to play in the half, at which time Fitch had only two shots to its credit. And the Vikings extended the lead to 9-3 at the half, getting four goals from Julia Bates.
Fitch started firing away to start the second half, scoring four of the first five goals — two by O'Leary, one by Maddie Catlett and one by Sefransky — to pull within 10-7.
Here's where Rose earned her designation as the Eastern Connecticut Conference's Division I first team goalie. She was behind the net chasing a loose ball. She was at the 20-yard-line finding room for a clear. She displayed fine stick skills on a save to start the half, practically doing a split. And she intercepted more than one Fitch pass before it could become a point-blank shot.
"Maya and I have been working together forever," said East Lyme senior captain Sarah Christensen, one of four starting defenders for the Vikings along with seniors Laura Agbayani and Erin Bauman and sophomore Ellie McCoy. "Any time she comes out of the goal, we trust her. We get nervous we don't have a goalie in the net, but we know she's going to get the ball."
"Goalie is part of the defense," Schneider said. "(Rose is) active. She's good with her stick. I don't remember the last time I didn't think she played well."
Rose, with official seven saves but with a performance more valuable than that gives her credit for, will continue her lacrosse career next year at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. — one of several East Lyme players with college lacrosse plans. Her older sister plays at Endicott.
"We started at the same time," Maya said of the family's dueling goalies. "I think it helped. We both went to a lot of goalie sessions together. We do a lot of hand-eye coordination drills in the summer. We push each other."
Bates finished with four goals and an assist for East Lyme, Abby Mountain had three goals, Maeve Counter two goals and Megan Bauman and Natale Taylor three assists each.
Following a timeout by Schneider after Fitch cut the Vikings' lead to 10-7, it was Mountain who scored a man-up free position goal with 12:08 to play to give the team some breathing room. Fitch then turned the ball over twice, the second caused by Agbayani and picked up by Rose, and Fitch's Catlett hit the post.
Freshman Meredith Healy scored assisted by Bauman and Counter scored on a free position to make it 13-7.
"That's tough," Fitch coach Michael Luethy said of the Falcons' start against East Lyme. "You don't want to go into a hole against a team like that. They were anticipating, they played solid defense all through the game. When we finally did settle in, we started scoring some goals. That's the Fitch we know."