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Lyman edges Wheeler 2-1 in girls' soccer

North Stonington — In these strange and challenging times, the Lyman Memorial and Wheeler girls’ soccer teams played a challenging game with a strange game-winning goal on a gray and blah Monday afternoon.

The game was tied when Lyman junior Kasey Cook fired a shot at the Lions’ net with 12 minutes, 5 seconds left in regulation. The ball hit off the crossbar, dropped in front of the net, and was inadvertently tapped in by a Wheeler defender to give the Bulldogs a 2-1 win in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

“I was kind of stressed because I know at the ending minutes of the second half everyone is worried about winning,” Cook said. “It’s kind of more stressful to the veterans because you know what the pain of losing feels like, so I was kind of pushing myself and doing my best to score.

“I hate losing, and I know everyone else on this team hates losing.”

Sophomore Magdalena Carpenter scored and junior Morgan Tartaglia had 16 saves for the Bulldogs (3-2-1).

“We knew it was going to be a weird season,” Lyman senior Madilyn Crawford said. “Games would get canceled the day of the game or the day before because of the coronavirus and everything, but we knew to win games and everything, we had to play as a team and take everything and every moment that we have together.”

Freshman Katie Pierce scored, senior Kylie Groves had the assist, and junior co-captain Addie Hauptmann had 14 saves for Wheeler (1-4-1).

“Our defender hit it into our own goal,” second-year Lions coach Kellie Palmer said. “Unfortunately, that’s soccer. Things happen.

“That’s the best game I’ve seen (us) play in two years. This team has come from winning zero games (in 2018) to being able to compete with teams like Lyman. They beat us by numerous goals last year.”

Wheeler senior co-captain Jess Johnson said, “I’m really proud of how we played today. … It’s all about getting better and even though we didn’t get that win, that’s okay. We worked our butts off today.”

The Lions last had a non-losing regular season in 2011 (7-7-2). They were 2-14 during Palmer’s first year.

“Just within these last two years Kellie has been here, I’ve seen phenomenal progress,” Johnson said. “I mean exponentially better, and she’s worked us so hard and we’ve really taken into consideration everything she said and putting our all into it.”

Carpenter took a pass from Cook and popped the ball up and into the net to give Lyman a 1-0 lead with over four minutes left in the first half.

“She battled for that,” Bulldogs head coach Mark Morello said. “She kind of got sandwiched between two girls twice and maintained her composure to find her spot in the upper part of the net there. … Her soccer IQ is very strong.”

The Lions responded quickly with Groves passing it to Pierce for a goal that tied the game with 2:39 remaining in the first half.

The teams exchanged chances until the final 12 minutes when Cook got a shot off towards Wheeler’s goal.

“I just know how my center-mids play, and I knew Magda was going to try and cross it in as best as she could,” Cook said. “I tried to set myself up so I could just one-time it. It hit the crossbar and then just hit down onto the line.”

Palmer said, “It just stinks to have it end like that. We’ll get it, though. I’m telling you, I can feel it.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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