CLINTON — Two of the most complete girls lacrosse teams with prolific scorers and solid defenses — Old Saybrook and North Branford — faced off for the Shoreline Conference championship on Thursday at Indian River Complex.
North Branford coach Lori Connelly believed scoring early and getting early momentum was important, but playing solid defense was key too.
The Thunderbirds got both as Zoe Miller scored three goals and Sofia Votto led the defense with 14 saves to give No. 2 seed North Branford a 9-3 win over No. 1 Old Saybrook.
“Scoring early was important because when we score early it always gets our goalie hyped up,” Connelly said. “But tonight, really, it was our defense that was amazing. They did a nice job limiting their top scorer (Lily Cody). They played solid defense on our top scorers. Zoe Miller isn’t a top scorer, but she stepped up tonight and took advantage of her opportunities.
“Our team played one of their best games tonight. They never played that unified, every player contributed.”
It is the third straight Shoreline Conference title for the Thunderbirds who improve to 15-3.
Miller scored the game’s first goal with 22:53 left in the first half and Olivia Toto made it 2-0 with 21:30 to go. Laura Day answered for the Rams to cut the lead to 2-1. A goal by Miller with 16:41 left and another by Breden LeBeau made it 4-1 with 15:30 to go and the Rams never recovered from the early barrage of goals.
“They beat us twice in the regular season, so it was important to get that first goal and get that early momentum,” Miller said. “We expected them to come out fired up but we came out 10 times more fired up.
“This is so special because I’ve never been the leading scorer in a game before. It’s a great feeling to contribute to this big win for us.”
The Rams got as close as 5-3 with a goal from Lily Cody with 21:17 to go in the second half. But the Thunderbirds scored the game’s last four goals to ice the win.
“The better team won today,” Old Saybroook coach Dick Shriver said.”They put it all together today and no question beat us fair and square. Our girls played great too, but we have some organizing and work to do as we prepare for the state tournament.”
Lily Cody had two goals for the Rams and Samantha Wakelee had four saves.
NORTH BRANFORD 9, OLD SAYBROOK 3
North Branford 5 4 — 9
Old Saybrook 2 1 — 3
SCORING: North Branford — Zoe Miller 3g, Gabby Gibilisco 2g, Olivia Toto 1g,, 1a, Keana Criscuolo 1g, Marissa Raffone 1g, Braeden LeBeau 1g; Old Saybrook — Lily Cody 2g, Laura Day 1g. Saves: North Branford — Sofia Votto 14; Old Saybrook — Samantha Wakelee 4. Records: North Branford 15-3; Old Saybrook 14-1.
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