East Lyme High School soccer programs seem to thrive on playing two

East Lyme High School goalie Hayley Sorrentino grabs the ball in a close play with Waterford's' Mia Brennan during second-half action in Saturday's ALS Soccer Cup doubleheader. (Tim Cook/The Day)
East Lyme High School goalie Hayley Sorrentino grabs the ball in a close play with Waterford's' Mia Brennan during second-half action in Saturday's ALS Soccer Cup doubleheader. (Tim Cook/The Day)

East Lyme High School's two soccer programs have this doubleheader thing down.

“I like (playing) second better,” said Nick Ghirardi, a senior forward on the Vikings boys' soccer team. “There's more pressure (knowing the girls won already). I like playing under the pressure.”

“If it's at this field, I like the second game,” East Lyme boys' coach Paul Christensen said Saturday from Waterford. “At this field, the sun's brutal.”

East Lyme's two-game soccer sweep Saturday against the Lancers was the latest in the Vikings' series of back-to-back triumphs. Playing for the ALS Cup, the girls defeated Waterford 1-0 in double-overtime on a goal by Kate Christiansen and the boys topped the Lancers 4-1 with two goals and an assist from Ghirardi and a goal and two assists from James Foster.

East Lyme also swept last year's ALS Cup games, played at East Lyme, 7-1 for the boys and 3-1 for the girls.

And the Vikings have swept the last two Eastern Connecticut Conference tournaments.

In 2013, the girls played first in an ECC championship doubleheader at Montville. They beat Woodstock Academy 4-3 on penalty kicks, a night that freshman goalie Alison Christensen, Paul's daughter, walked away with MVP honors and Paul, in the midst of preparing his own team, cried.

Paul's team followed with a 1-0 win over Norwich Free Academy in overtime, only seeming like it ended at 3 a.m., with the all-conference teams being introduced between the pair of lengthy games.

Last season, the boys were first up and defeated Montville 2-0, becoming the only boys' team to win the ECC title in back-to-back seasons. The girls went second and beat Woodstock 2-0 for their third straight league tournament crown.

The Vikings also play an annual doubleheader with Old Lyme, scheduled this year for Saturday, Oct. 3.

Last year's resulted in another East Lyme sweep, with the girls beating the Wildcats 2-1 in the 5 p.m. game and the boys coming through with Christensen's 300th career victory, 2-0, in the 7 p.m. game.

“It certainly helps me because my daughter plays for the girls' team,” Christensen said. “But it's also a good community event. The teams get along well. It sells the game of soccer. … We have Youth Night when Old Lyme comes over, so there's a bunch of 8-year-olds in their jerseys looking at the high school kids, like, “Oh, my God.” They play at halftime. It's a good community thing.”

The ALS Cup games, in their 10th season helping to raise money in the fight against ALS, as well as provide awareness for the disease, also generate community involvement.

Christensen said his team raised about $700 between the presale of tickets and a “jeans day” he sponsored at the high school, where the teachers could pay $5 each to wear jeans to school.

Each East Lyme team has T-shirts that say “East Lyme futbol” on them and the boys' and girls' teams trade shirts, Christensen said.

“If you look at the girls' shirts it will be one of the boys' names and numbers on it,” Christensen said. “It's like their sponsor.”

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