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East Lyme defeats St. Joseph 10-6 to win Class M girls' lacrosse title

Milford — This is what a state championship feels like: Maya Rose, the goalie, awash in the trifecta of laughing, smiling and crying, sometimes all in the same breath.

This is what a state championship looks like: The pile of humanity piling on each other ... and then conspiring to douse coach Phil Schneider with as much water as possible a few minutes after the game ended.

"The distraction technique," Schneider said quite happily — and wet — after his players ambushed him while he was talking to the media Saturday afternoon.

Yes, the flagship girls' lacrosse program in the Eastern Connecticut Conference added another banner — the second state championship in East Lyme High School history — after a 10-6 win over St. Joseph at Jonathan Law.

The third-seeded Vikings, who didn't win the ECC tournament, saved their best for the last day of the season, taking down No. 13 St. Joseph from the league's premier conference for lacrosse, the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC).

"This is a group that hasn't changed since the start of the season. A tremendous run," Schneider said. "We could have easily, in the middle of the season after losing to (eventual ECC champ) Woodstock, decided we wouldn't be this type of team. But we stayed positive. Now here we are: state champs."

Indeed. East Lyme (18-4) overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first half by scoring six straight goals. Then the Vikes turned to their defense and Rose, nine of whose 12 saves came in the second half, seemingly one bigger than the next.

Maybe the biggest came with six minutes left as the Vikings protected a 9-5 lead. St. Joe's Kylie Lucifora, who already scored two goals, was awarded a free position and an opportunity to pull the Cadets within three — and perhaps provide East Lyme with a dose more late-game angst.

Rose not only stopped her, but used her noggin to stop another shot shortly after.

"Maya did a tremendous job," Schneider said. "We have seniors who know how to play aggressive defense. We turned them over. A great team effort."

Rose, still fighting back joyful tears well after the game ended, said, "It's just really unbelievable. We didn't win our conference tournament, but that made us even stronger as a team. I just love this team so much.  It was our last game together and it's really unbelievable right now."

Julia Bates scored two of her three goals during East Lyme's six-score streak in the first half. St. Joe's got as close as 7-4 in the second half, but Dylan Park and Abby Mountain gave the Vikings a 9-4 lead.

Mountain and Nancy Alden had two goals apiece. Maeve Counter and Isabella Mazzi also scored, while Megan Bauman had two assists.

"Being behind a little motivated us," Bates said. "It gave us a little more fire."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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