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    Saturday, December 03, 2022

    Stonington field hockey wins a snowy shootout in Class S semis

    Stonington's Anna Lettiere (18) races to celebrate with teammates after scoring the winning goal in penalty stroke overtime during CIAC class S field hockey semi-final action Tuesday, November 15, 2022 at Wethersfield High School. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Stonington's Anna Lettiere (18) scores past Canton's Lyla O'Connor (0) for the wining goal in penalty strokes over time during CIAC class S field hockey semi-final action Tuesday, November 15, 2022 at Wethersfield High School. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Stonington's Brianna Plew (13) celebrates her 1st half goal against Canton in CIAC class S field hockey semi-final action Tuesday, November 15, 2022 at Wethersfield High School. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Wethersfield — The situation couldn’t have been more unusual or more exhilarating.

    The Class S field hockey semifinal between Stonington and Canton was caught in a snowstorm which descended in the second quarter Tuesday night, with the white stuff accumulating so rapidly the officiating crew switched to an orange ball to be able to distinguish it.

    Then the game, tied 1-1 after regulation and two 10-minute 7-on-7 overtime sessions, went to a shootout, whereby by each shooter gets eight seconds to try to dribble to the goal and outfinesse the keeper.

    That was where Stonington gained the advantage.

    The Bears, who won the game 2-1 in a shootout, had Madi Allard.

    “She did a great job,” Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio said of Allard, her 5-foot-2 senior goalie, who broke up the last four shots that Canton attempted in the shootout.

    “Times where she can dive and have free reign, she thrives. I think she was pretty pumped for this. ... This is unreal. It was just madness. I’m hardly ever speechless. I’m not finding the words today.”

    Third-ranked Stonington (17-2-1) advanced to the championship game for the second straight season to face No. 1 North Branford on Saturday, back at Wethersfield, in a rematch of last season’s title game won by North Branford, 2-0.

    North Branford edged Immaculate 2-1 in Tuesday night’s other semifinal game.

    The shootout, which affords five player from each team the chance to go up against the opposing goalie, finished in a 2-2 tie, with sophomore Anna Lettiere and junior Megan Harris scoring for Stonington.

    Canton led the shootout 2-1 before Harris tied things, then the final two players from each team missed, with Allard charging from the goal on each occasion and diving to crash the play.

    That led to a sudden victory round, each team granted one player to participate in a shootout. Canton missed, while Lettiere was successful yet again for Stonington, giving the Bears a jubilant celebration in the snow.

    “Well, it’s one of my favorite things we do in practice,” Allard said. “We practice 1 v 1 all the time. You have to track the ball and block that whole area, just watch the ball.”

    Allard said she had never participated in a shootout in a game situation before, never mind with massive snowflakes falling all around her.

    “We’re prepared for anything,” Allard said. “We wanted to come back to where we were last year and get the win this time.”

    Stonington took a 1-0 lead 1 minute, 26 seconds into the second quarter off a penalty corner when Brianna Plew rifled a shot from the top of the circle that deflected up and into the goal.

    Canton, however, spent most of the third quarter taking penalty corners, awarded eight of them. Finally, Emma Foy scored for the Warriors with 2:05 remaining in the third to tie things 1-1, where the score would remain as the snow made it more difficult to maneuver quickly.

    Tucchio said she told the Bears headed into the shootout to keep things simple.

    “Their footing isn’t that great,” Tucchio said. “What we have to do is not go too high-tech on this. Keep it basic.”

    Said Tucchio of the feverish ending that followed, watching a team with only two returning starters reach the championship game: “I couldn’t breathe. I was out of breath. It’s amazing. I’m just along for the ride at this point.”

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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