Lady Trojans win Class S lax title

State champions!

That's the moniker for the fifth-seeded Weston girls lacrosse team, who won its first state title Saturday with an 8-7 victory over seventh-seeded Granby Memorial at Bunnell High School in Stratford in the rain. Weston, who is in its seventh year of existence as a varsity program finished the season at 16-6. Granby capped the year at 14-7.

"It's incredible," Lady Trojans senior tri-captain Hannah Hutchins said. "We deserved it so much and worked hard for it for four years."

Going in, Weston appeared to be the prohibitive favorite because it plays in the SWC, which has much stronger teams than the North Central Connecticut Conference -- which is the conference where the Lady Bears play in. However, Granby hung tough and in fact, took a 2-0 lead in the game's first three minutes on goals by senior co-captain Christina LaTona and junior Megan Griffin (five goals). LaTona (one goal, two assists) assisted on Griffin's goal.

"I feel we could have played a lot better," Lady Trojans Coach Megan Murphy said. "We had more turnovers in the first half than we did all season. We weren't taking care of the ball."

The rain was definitely a factor as it changed how the game was played.

Weston came back with three goals in the next 3:19 to take a 3-2 lead. Hutchins (one goal, one assist, one draw control, one caused turnover) set up junior Catie Ledwick (four goals, one assist, two positive turnovers, two ground balls, one interception, three draw controls) with 20:24 remaining and with 19:13 left, the captain scored a layup style-goal to tie it 2-2.

Only 24 seconds after Hutchins' equalizer, junior Abby Chepolis (one goal, two interceptions) gave the Lady Trojans the lead off a feed from freshman Lindsay Koch (two assists). Freshman Stephanie Thomson got the ball rolling on the goal by winning the draw.

Sophomore Grace Mattison (three ground balls, three interceptions, one draw control) played well defensively for Weston and helped get it possession. However, the Lady Trojans didn't score again in the half and the closest they got was when Hutchins hit the post.

"It was important to watch everyone [on Granby] because they were all a threat," Mattison said.

Seniors Sara O'Brien and Becky O'Brien (three ground balls) also played well defensively. They effectively faceguarded LaTona and Griffin and made it hard for the Lady Bears to move.

"It was working together as a team and communicating with each other," Sara O'Brien said. "It was a team effort."

Becky O'Brien said, "We didn't allow them to take many good shots and put our best effort forward."

Also contributing in the trenches for the Lady Trojans were senior tri-captain Cara Fleming (one caused turnover) and sophomore Morgan Moubayed (two draw controls, one caused turnover).

Griffin tied with 9:38 and no more goals were scored in the half, which ended deadlocked at 3-3. Weston junior goalie Carolyn Figliola (nine saves) preserved the tie by making some big saves, including one-on-ones against Griffin and LaTona.

"Making saves on one-on-ones is [a matter of] focusing on the ball and making sure o n the ball and making sure you zone into it," Figliola said. "I was focused on making the save."

Lady Bears goalie Emily Bernard (eight saves) also preserved tie by robbing Hutchins and sophomore Frances Holmes on a few occasions.

Granby took a 4-3 lead 1:08 into the second half on Griffin's goal but the Lady Trojans rebounded with 22:35 left on regulation on Ledwick's goal from Koch. Holmes scored 14 seconds later off a feed from Ledwick to give Weston a 5-4 lead.

"We really got down in the first half and knew we had to pick it up and I knew what I had to do," Holmes said.

The Lady Trojans looked like they were going to break it open with 16:32 remaining when Koch apparently scored off a centering pass from senior tri-captain Alex Fumai (one draw control) but the goal was disallowed because Koch had an illegal stick.

"The weather was a factor [in that it messed with the webbing of the sticks] and at least 80 percent of the sticks were illegal," Murphy said. "It could have been a momentum-changer. We just needed to stay composed and they handled it well."

Griffin tied it 5-5 with 14:31 to go and the Lady Bears took a 6-5 lead when junior Brooke Kumnick scored from senior co-captain Abby Bascetta with 11:30 left.

However, the Lady Trojans were resilient. Holmes (two goals, one assist) tied it with 8:03 left and 47 seconds later, set up an explosive Ledwick for the go-ahead goal.

"I knew it would be tight and I took the opportunities when I had them and cut at the right times," Ledwick said.

The lead didn't last as Griffin tied it from Kumnick with 1:29 to go.

Hutchins then won the ensuing draw and 26 seconds after the equalizer, Ledwick circled the net and scored to make it 8-7.

"I wasn't expecting it to go in because of the goalie's position, but it happened to go in and I was happy to score it," Ledwick said.

Ledwick's goal stood up after Hutchins won the draw and the Lady Trojans held on to the ball.

"We boxed out our girls and I tried to flick it behind me and it worked," Hutchins said.

In the end, it was mission accomplished.

"We knew it was possible and it was always our goal to win states," Ledwick said. "I never thought it would ever happen and it was amazing it happened."