Lamb's record-setting effort lifts Stonington into Class S girls' lacrosse final
Glastonbury — There was so much for them to be happy about on Monday.
Start with an impressive 9-5 win over No. 2 Canton at Glastonbury High School that vaulted the Bears into the Class S championship game for the first time since 2014.
Then there's senior Hannah Lamb's five-goal performance that made her the program's all-time single season and career goal scoring leader.
And how about the stellar play of junior goalie Isabella McCarthy? She made several difficult saves early on in the semifinal to keep the Bears afloat until they found their offensive edge, which was a joy to watch.
Plus, No. 3 Stonington pulled a trip to the finals with just 17 players on the roster.
"This was a great day for us," Lamb said.
Stonington (18-3) never trailed and seized control in the second half, scoring six straight goals to break a 3-3 tie.
Next up is No. 1 and defending champion New Fairfield, which beat No. 13 Weston 9-6 in Monday's other semifinal. The final is set for Saturday at Law High School in Milford at a time to be determined.
"I don't know what tell you, we're a happy crew here," coach Jeff Medeiros said. "I've got 17 girls and we're going to the state finals. I can't get any happier than this."
Both teams have dealt with their share of injuries to key players.
The Bears relied on their veterans and received vital contributions from underclassmen to overcome the adversity.
The dangerous Lamb set the tone early, firing in a low shot to score on the game's opening possession off a nice set-up from junior Abigail Remmert. Lamb added two unassisted goals before halftime, giving her the two program records.
With her five goals overall, Lamb increased her single-season total to 93 — the old record was 89 — and career total to 229, four more than the previous high mark.
"That was really cool," Lamb said. "It wouldn't have been as cool if we lost. I was pretty happy about that, because that's been a goal for me."
Her teammates made sure Lamb's record-setting performance came in a win.
Stonington's stingy defense, led by McCarthy, kept Canton (17-3) scoreless for the first 18 minutes, 18 seconds. Canton's Ashley Huff broke the drought with a free position goal to cut the gap to 2-1.
The Bears led 3-2 at the break, thanks to McCarthy's seven saves.
"Great performance from my goalie," Medeiros said. "Awesome job. In the beginning of the game, she made a ton of stops and kept us in the game."
Things tightened up at the start of the second half but only briefly.
Huff scored for Canton with just over a minute gone in the second half to tie the score for the first and only time.
Just 21 seconds later, the Bears responded. Lamb's solo effort handed them the lead for good and sparked a string of six straight goals.
Freshman Ivy Goodman, senior Kate Johnson and senior Emma Sabbadini each scored in just under a two-minute span. Then Johnson and Lamb each found the back of the net, increasing the edge to 9-3 with 9:18 remaining.
So what prompted the outburst?
"In this sport, momentum is a lot," Lamb said. "I think we had it in us to win this and once we got the momentum we didn't lose it and kept our composure really well. We didn't screw up very much and didn't make a lot of the mistakes that we did in the past."
With some talented veterans Lamb, Sabbadini and Johnson leading the way, the Bears believed they could make a deep run in the Class S tournament this season.
"We knew if there was going to be a year, it was going to be this year," Lamb said. "Honestly, we didn't know how far we were going to get, so just getting this far, I would have been happy even if we lost today. We just did so well this season."
The Bears won the state title in their last championship appearance in 2014.
"It's not an easy place to go," Medeiros said of the finals. "This year, we've got New Fairfield, which is pretty darn good. This was an amazing game. It's going to take another amazing performance."
Editor's Note: Junior goalie Isabella McCarthy's class has been corrected.