Rebels use late stand to keep crown

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - High Schools - By Richard Gre­gory rgre­gory@ newstimes. com; @ Dan­buryS­ports

MIL­FORD — With less than min­utes to go in the Class S state cham­pi­onship game on Satur­day, the New Fair­field High School girls lacrosse team des­per­ately needed a big de­fen­sive stand. The fate of the Rebels’ sea­son ab­so­lutely de­pended on it.

East Catholic had scored four straight goals to trim what had been a six- goal deficit down to a very man­age­able two. The Ea­gles had the mo­men­tum in their fa­vor, and they were charg­ing hard.

How­ever, as it had done all af­ter­noon — and all sea­son, for that mat­ter — the New Fair­field de­fense valiantly stood its ground to se­cure the Rebels’ sec­ond con­sec­u­tive state ti­tle with a 9- 6 vic­tory.

As East Catholic sniper Alexa We­ber streaked to­ward the Rebel cage de­ter­mined to make it a one- goal game, four New Fair­field de­fend­ers swarmed her and jarred the ball away. Out of the pack flashed New Fair­field’s Syd­ney Coleswor­thy to snatch up the loose ball, and end what proved to be East Catholic’s fi­nal threat. Mo­ments later at the other end of the field, Coleswor­thy set up Ni­cole Berry for an in­sur­ance goal — and all of New Fair­field breathed a col­lec­tive sigh of re­lief.

“We all worked so hard, and I knew this game was go­ing to be in­tense be­cause this was their first time here, and they wanted to win,” New Fair­field goalie Rachel Miko­lay said. “We knew we would have to come out ag­gres­sively be­cause they were go­ing to want this. We just wanted it more.”

Berry and Do­minique DeMar­sico each scored three goals, with Berry adding two as­sists. Kate­lyn Sousa, Rea­gan Te­naglia and Coleswor­thy each scored a goal, with Coleswor­thy adding two as­sists and Sousa one. The fourth­seeded Rebels kept their com­po­sure de­spite los­ing two of their top play­ers — Kate­lyn Nieves and Te­naglia — to in­juries.

“East Catholic re­ally put a charge on and kept us on our toes, and we re­ally had to play as a team and min­i­mize the mis­takes at the end, and we were able to do that,” said New Fair­field coach Karen Nell, whose Rebels won seven straight play­off games to win the South- West Con­fer­ence and state ti­tles af­ter los­ing their reg­u­lar- sea­son fi­nale to New­town. “Ev­ery­body pulled to­gether when they needed to. East Catholic had some strong play­ers who could re­ally pres­sure us, and our de­fense played re­ally un­der con­trol.”

Goalie Rachel Miko­lay — the MVP of last year’s state cham­pi­onship game as a sopho­more — made seven huge saves. She’s grown ac­cus­tomed to be­ing the Rebels’ last line of de­fense when the pres­sure is at its great­est.

“I used to be nervewrack­ing, when I was start­ing off in the game, but now I’m just con­fi­dent in my­self, and I’m calm,” she said. “I make sure that I’m talk­ing a lot be­cause if you don’t have some­one talk­ing on de­fense, noth­ing pro­duc­tive is go­ing to hap­pen.”

It was a tough way to fin­ish what had been a strong sea­son for third­seeded East Catholic — but the Ea­gles cer­tainly went down fight­ing. We­ber scored three goals, Macy Wil­cox scored two and Cami Pasqualoni scored one. Goalie Kiely Cal­la­han made seven saves.

“I am re­ally proud of them,” East Catholic coach Brian Wil­cox said. “It’s hard to see it end af­ter the great run we had, but I’m re­ally proud of them. We have a lot to be proud of, but it’s hard to lose.”

Both teams played tremen­dous de­fense. In fact, the game re­mained score­less for the first 13 min­utes.

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