West Hartford’s Hall High School girls lacrosse team dropped a close contest to Simsbury on April 29, but since then the Warriors have beaten Somers and Farmington.
By David Heuschkel, West Hartford Press Sports Editor
The odds are quite slim that a high school lacrosse team in Fairfield County – boys or girls – that was undefeated this deep into the season would lose to a team with more losses than wins.
The same cannot be said about teams in the Central Connecticut Conference. Case in point: When the unbeaten Simsbury girls lacrosse team hosted Hall under the Holden Field lights April 29, it was anybody’s game until the closing seconds.
Playing its first game in nearly a week, Hall came oh-so close to handing Simsbury its first loss.
The Warriors either had the lead or were tied with the Trojans for 34 ½ minutes of the 50-minute match, only to come up on short in the end.
“I love the way our team played, honestly,” Hall coach Meg Chaplin said after a 9-8 loss to Simsbury. “I think when we ran our offense, we ran it cleanly and we got the shots that we wanted and we got the goals that we wanted.”
Hall scored six goals in the first half but just two in the second half.
“When we had that two-goal lead, we’re not necessarily looking to score right away. So I don’t know it was necessarily anything [Simsbury] did defensively,” Chaplin said. “We just decided to use the clock a little bit. We didn’t have the urgency to score that they did. That can make it look like they were more successful defensively.”
With the win over Hall, Simsbury (8-0) remained the only undefeated team in Class L, though its record is a bit of a mirage given the soft nature of the schedule. Nobody believes the Trojans would have an unblemished record if they played Staples (9-1), Darien (8-1), Wilton (7-1) or New Canaan (8-2).
“Fairfield County teams are not worried about us. I’m not going to make some secret about that,” said Simsbury coach Sam Zullo, whose team had outscored its first seven opponents 121-30, a 13-goal average margin of victory.
Simsbury’s closest match was a 16-8 victory over Southington (7-3) before the Trojans faced its first true test against Hall.
The Warriors, who fell to 3-5 with the loss, looked like they were the team with the better record in the first half, scoring five consecutive goals to erase an early two-goal deficit.
[Editor’s Note: Since this story was written, Hall has brought their record to 5-5, with a 10-3 victory over Somers on May 2, and an 11-9 victory over Farmington on May 3. Simsbury is now 8-1, following a 17-10 loss to West Hartford’s Conard High School on May 3.]
Hall led 6-3 at halftime and maintained that three-goal cushion when sophomore midfielder Lola Smith scored off a nice feed by Anne Tulikangas midway through the second half, giving the Warriors a 7-4 advantage with just under 14 minutes left on the clock.
The Warriors then proceed to go 12 ½ minutes without scoring, during which time Simsbury put five balls past senior goalie Maya Borden to take a 9-7 lead with 1:40 remaining.
Simsbury junior Samantha Dupree started the 5-goal run, scoring off a free position with just under 11 minutes left to trim Hall’s lead to 7-5. Shortly thereafter that lead was gone when Abigail Interrante and Dupree scored 19 seconds apart, pulling the Trojans even with 8:50 left.
Borden kept it tied by stopping Simsbury’s Payton Arsenault, who made a spin move to shake a Hall defender and get an open shot in front of the goal.
Moments later, Interrante would not be denied. Her goal gave Simsbury an 8-7 lead with 5:11 left. Dupree scored her fourth goal to give the Trojans a two-goal cushion.
But Smith answered with her third goal, cutting the deficit to 9-8 with 75 seconds left. A turnover by Simsbury in the final minute gave Hall a chance to tie, but an errant pass gave possession back to the Trojans.
Another turnover by Simsbury with 20 seconds left gave the Warriors one final chance, but a shot sailed high over the net with 7 second to go and the Trojans ran out the clock.
“That was a tough one,” Chaplin said. “It was a 50-50 game all the way down to the last 7 seconds. They got one more in the net that we did at the end of the day, but I was very pleased with the way our team responded.”
Hall has been playing without starting midfielder Siobhan Boyle, a senior captain. She sustained a knee injury in a preseason scrimmage that will keep her sidelined for the rest of the season, according to Chaplin.
Chaplin said Boyle has remained an “invaluable” presence with the team by helping with game-time preparation and practices.
Hall has to win and go no worse than 4-4 in its final eight games to qualify for the Class L state tournament, and got a good start on that with two more wins since the Simsbury contest. The Warriors should get challenges from Southington (7-4), Canton (9-1), Granby (8-2), and Conard (7-4).
Conard coach Meg Cersosimo and Canton coach Sean Cole, accompanied by his assistant coach and nine of his players, were in attendance at the Hall-Simsbury game to do some advance scouting.
“The last two losses were 50-50 games and we lost both of them,” Chaplin said, referring to the loss to Simsbury and two-goal loss to South Windsor. “But we’ve got the second half of the season to go. We’ve got things we can fix. We’ve got a lot more 50-50 games on the schedule ahead of us, so I’m optimistic.”
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