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Healy returns from injury and sparks East Lyme girls past Bacon in ECC D-I semis

East Lyme — Rachel Redding has entertained happier thoughts in her life than what she contemplated early Tuesday night, sprinting on to Dick North Field to see why the franchise — otherwise known as leading scorer Meredith Healy — was laying on the turf.

Was she hurt? And if so, how badly?

"The best part about this team," Redding was saying later in retrospect, "is that they're not out there for themselves. They play for each other. We haven't had a full team all season."

Redding, the girls' soccer coach at East Lyme, said it all with a smile. That's because Healy, who was carried off the field, sprinted back on it 10 minutes later and scored three goals, leading the top-seeded Vikings to a 4-0 win over No. 4 Bacon Academy and a berth in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I title game.

East Lyme (15-2) not only gets to play for a championship on its home field Thursday night at 7 but will do so against blood rival Waterford.

"I'm so small that I get pushed around a lot," Healy said. "Usually, I don't even know what happens. I'll be on the ground and Ella (Mazzulli) or Margaret (Dunne) will tell me what happened. I was just kind of shocked at first tonight."

Healy collided with Bacon goalie Sam Ciaglo and knew she hurt part of her leg.

"I thought I cracked my shin," Healy said. "But I was told it was just a bone bruise and that I'd be fine."

She got hurt in the ninth minute, returned in the 19th and scored her first of three goals in the 37th to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead. Her goals in the 44th and 66th minutes gave her team a 3-0 lead before Mazzulli's textbook direct free kick in the 69th minute made it 4-0.

"We just had to be tough," Healy said.

The game was scoreless  for most of the first half thanks in part of East Lyme goalie Lilly Massung.

"Lilly  played the game of her life," Redding said. "The saves she made just boosted everyone."

And now they get the second-seeded Lancers. It'll be the fourth different sport in the last four years in which Waterford and East Lyme have played for an ECC title, joining baseball, boys' basketball and boys' lacrosse.

East Lyme won the regular season game, 1-0.

"It'll be exciting," Redding said. "It's the match everyone wants to see. Two teams that have been going at it for years. Why not, right?"

m.dimauro@theday.com

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