By Eliot Schickler

The third-seeded Weston girls lacrosse team took a step towards defending the Class S title Thursday.

Host Weston opened its defense of the title with a 20-9 victory over 14th-seeded Sacred Heart Academy in the first round of the Class S playoffs, raising its record to 15-4. Sacred Heart ended its season at 8-8-1.

"We did well and had a strong second half," Lady Trojans coach Megan Murphy said. "Everyone played well, and it was a good, all-around game for us."

Weston led by only four goals at the break before picking up its pace.

"We made adjustments on defense at halftime," Murphy said. "Sacred Heart drove to the goal, and we had to work on stopping their drive, which we did."

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Lady Trojans senior captain Catie Ledwick said, "We came out knowing they would be strong, so we came out strong, so we came out pumped, which is why the team as a whole did so well."

Lindsay Koch led Weston's attack with seven goals and two assists.

"Catie and I worked well together, and Fran's drives and passes, helped," Koch said. "The cuts were good, and we were able to move their defenders. It was easy to get open for passes, and I shoot it in the 8-box while attacking."

Koch was referring to Frances Holmes, who had six goals and two assists.

"I got a lot of great passes from my teammates, and they set me up well," Holmes said. "A lot is due to what I had around me. I was in the right place at the right time, and it worked in my favor."

Holmes is the team's top playmaker who usually sets up her teammates instead of taking the shots herself. The game against the Pacers was different for her.

"They played a zone defense, which made it easier to score off the drive instead of passing it to my teammates," Holmes said.

Ledwick was the team's third-leading scorer with five goals and three assists. The captain's greatest contribution to the Lady Trojans was her tenacity in the trenches where she came up with five draw controls and two ground balls.

"For me, it was a different sense intensity because it's one loss and you are out," Ledwick said. "Losing is not an option for me because you are out after one loss and it's over. I want it to go on until states, and I want to win states."

Nicole DeCanio and Stephanie Thomson scored one goal each for Weston. DeCanio was a playmaker with three assists. Alexa Werner had two assists and Thomson had one helper.

Carolyn Figliola made seven saves for the Lady Trojans.

Thomson and Koch each had three draw controls. Grace Mattison and Werner had two draw controls each.

Werner led the team in ground balls with three. Stefanie Buffa, Holmes and Koch each had two ground balls, and Abbie Chepolis, Maggie Maretz, Alex Fontaine and Dana Mitchell had a ground ball each.

Weston hosts 11th-seed Old Lyme Monday at 5 p.m. in the Class S quarterfinals. If the Lady Trojans win, they will either second-seeded Granby Memorial or seventh-seeded Lauralton Hall Wednesday in the semifinals at a site to be determined. A win in the semis places Weston in the Class S championship at Bunnell June 9 against an opponent to be determined with top-seeded Haddam-Killingworth being the likely opponent.

Last year, the Lady Trojans defeated HK, 12-9 in the semifinals, and Granby, 8-7, in the finals.

"We have more of a desire to win and it's spreading," Murphy said. "We don't want it to end. We will look at our opponents and play our game. We'll figure it out as the game goes on, and we'll make our adjustments from there."

Ledwick said, "We're definitely building as a team and getting a lot better and flowing a lot better as a team."