East Lyme wins first ECC outright field hockey tournament title in program history
Stonington — The goalie, Lydia Swan, who earlier saved a shot by performing a split, said this of the moment her East Lyme field hockey team finally broke an eternal tie with Stonington:
"It was just like you're on a ride and your stomach just drops. ... It was an adrenaline rush, seeing the ball hit the back of the goal and hearing the sound."
East Lyme sophomore Sarah Healy ended the game with 5 minutes, 6 seconds remaining in the first 10-minute overtime of Thursday night's Eastern Connecticut Conference field hockey tournament championship, giving the jubilant Vikings the 1-0 victory, their first outright tournament title in program history.
That was after last season's ECC championship game ended in a 0-0 tie, with East Lyme and Stonington finishing as co-champions.
The teams then tied twice to share this year's regular-season title and were tied again through 60 minutes of regulation Thursday, putting the total time the teams have been deadlocked at 260 minutes over 372 days.
The overtime sessions, rather unique to field hockey, feature 7-on-7 play, contested at an all-out sprint. And overtime commenced in a steady downpour.
"Really exhausted," Healy said of the game-winning goal, which came on an assist from her sister Kristen, a senior who was named a first team ECC all-star Thursday night at forward. "I just got a pass from Kristen and I tried not to think about it."
"Practices are just endless," Swan said of the reason for the degree of joy the Vikings displayed when Healy's goal sailed into the goal cage. "We want it. We want to give it our all."
Midfielder Caroline Real was named Most Valuable Player for East Lyme (13-2-3), which will play in the Class M state tournament beginning next week.
"She just stood out to me," East Lyme coach Kristy Behbehani said. "We couldn't have done it without her."
Both coaches, Behbehani and Stonington's Jenna Tucchio, were somewhat incredulous as the title game went to overtime once again. (Last year's game even resulted in co-MVPs with East Lyme's Katie Durkee and Stonington's Colette Dreher sharing that honor, as well).
"Especially since it's been tie after tie after tie ... and one more tie after that," Behbehani said. "You start thinking 'It's overtime again.' ... I think we have a strong seven (for overtime situations). (Stonington's) corners at the end (of regulation) had me really nervous."
"I was just thinking, 'How long is this going to go?' Tucchio said of the series of ties. "The ball's going back and forth and you see the kids going and going. Today wasn't the day. They're disappointed, but keep it in perspective: One of us could win on any given night. East Lyme kept fighting in that circle, fighting and fighting."
East Lyme ended the first half on a penalty corner but couldn't generate a shot.
Stonington had the final opportunities of regulation with three straight corners following a run down the left side by Ellie Korinek. In the last game between the teams, just a week prior, the Bears came from behind to tie things at 1-1 on a goal which came off a third straight corner.
This time, on the third one, awarded with 18 seconds remaining, Stonington's Sophia Fernholz hit a shot that went just wide right as Swan dove to her left and chased the ball out of bounds as time expired.
"Just before we got out on the field 7 v. 7, we had a huddle and we went over everything," Swan said. "Everybody knew how much we wanted it inside."
"None of the girls on the field (for Stonington) have ever played in 7 v. 7," said Tucchio, whose team is 12-3-2 headed to the Class S state tournament. "You practice it but it's not the same fatigue as when you go 7 v. 7 and there's not the sense of urgency as when you do 7 v. 7. ... They played well. Part of the growth process is learning to win and learning to lose, learning to bounce back."
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