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Healy ruins the suspense as East Lyme girls take ECC D-I title over Waterford

East Lyme — Far be it from East Lyme and Waterford to play a game of anything without two howling student sections, a little suspense and a razor-thin margin.

It was Meredith Healy, East Lyme High School's senior all-stater and resident superhero who took some of the drama out of Thursday's Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I girls' soccer tournament final with her second goal of the game with 7 minutes, 6 seconds remaining, giving the Vikings a 3-1 victory.

"We made a couple little mistakes," Waterford coach Chris Ghiglia said. "A lot of times (in that situation), you go unpunished. Not against Meredith."

Healy was named the championship's Most Outstanding Player as East Lyme (16-2) won its first ECC tournament title since 2016. Healy scored three goals in the Vikings' 4-0 ECC semifinal win Tuesday over Bacon Academy, a game in which she was carried off the field due to injury before responding with a hat trick.

On Thursday, Healy scored the game's first goal with 6:49 to play in the first half, dribbling down the right side and past the Waterford defense. Her second came with East Lyme clinging to a 2-1 lead and the teams trading length-of-the-field sprints as time wound down. Margaret Dunne unleashed a shot from the left side, with Healy just on the right post to tip it in.

"It showed my girls never gave up," East Lyme coach Rachel Redding said of the late goal. "They wanted to win that game. We work on practicing (having someone on the post) all day long.

"... It's a great win for us. It showed up on my Facebook that it was five years ago today that we won it. Waterford is an awesome team. We all know this rivalry is amazing. We knew that Waterford was going to come at us hard and constantly."

Waterford (13-3-2) tied the score with 27:37 remaining in the game on a goal by Emily Gates assisted by Amarys Jimenez, with Ghiglia crediting Gates, a senior wing, with playing the best game of her career. But East Lyme struck less than a minute later on a goal by Dunne assisted by Abby Belleville to regain the lead.

The flurry brought the vigor from both teams' student sections and the best out of the two goalies, East Lyme's Lillian Massung and Waterford's Mckenzie Gregory, who made stop after diving stop.

East Lyme defeated Waterford 1-0 on Oct. 1, handing the Lancers their first loss of the season when they were ranked 10th in the Class LL/L state poll. Waterford earned the rematch with a 3-2 victory over Plainfield in the ECC semifinals.

East Lyme was the 2019 Class L state runner-up before going to 4-6 last season in the midst of several stops and starts due to COVID-19. The Vikings played Thursday, Redding said, without defenders Caitlin White and Maya Pitruzello, with sophomores Summer and Lily Antonino filling those spots.

"We still have stuff to work on but I have a great team," Redding said. "These guys want to work hard for each other."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

East Lyme’s Margaret Dunne (19) celebrates with Abigail Belleville (11) and Riddhi Venkates (15) after scoring the eventual game-winner against Waterford in ECC Div. I girls soccer championship game action Thursday, November 4, 2021 at Dick North Field in East Lyme. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
East Lyme’s Margaret Dunne (19) celebrates with Abigail Belleville (11) and Riddhi Venkates (15) after scoring the eventual game-winner against Waterford in ECC Div. I girls soccer championship game action Thursday, November 4, 2021 at Dick North Field in East Lyme. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

ECC girls soccer championships photo gallery

For more photos from the ECC girls soccer championships click here.

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