WETHERSFIELD >> For 70 minutes on Saturday, 60 in regulation and another 10 in overtime, the Lauralton Hall defense was impeccable and stifling. But it was with time expired that one defensive letdown proved costly for the Crusaders in their Class M championship game with Wilton.
As the final seconds ticked off in overtime of a scoreless game, two-time defending champion Wilton was awarded its 16th penalty corner. If a penalty corner is awarded as the clock hits 0:00 — in the first half, second half or overtime — the penalty corner is played out.
During the penalty corner, the Warriors’ Madison Hendry sent the ball to Kristen Godin about 10 feet in front of Crusaders goalie Rashauna Banks. Godin, blocked by two defenders, worked the ball past them and fired a shot into the lower-right corner to lead No. 2 Wilton to a 1-0 win over No. 1 Lauralton Hall at Wethersfield High.
“This losing is new for us; our first loss of the season,” said Lauralton Hall first-year coach Kati Cavanagh, whose team entered the game 20-0-2. “I’m not thinking about the way we lost, just that losing this game is bittersweet. Our defense was so special with Lindsey Spitz, outstanding saves by our goalie and everyone out there who sacrificed their bodies in the effort. It was amazing.
“Our first half was rough on offense, but we played better in the second half. My kids are always even-tempered, cool-headed and calm and they never got frustrated. I’m proud of them because they pushed themselves so hard.”
Wilton (21-2) wins its third straight Class M title.
“It’s always hard to get to this point and Lauralton Hall has proved to be a fabulous team,” Wilton coach Deirdre Hynes said. “When it comes down to that situation, a penalty corner as time expired, it’s a tough way to win and tough way to lose. They played great defense and we were getting frustrated with so many of our shots not going into the goal.
“But our girls kept at it and finally one of the shots went in. It was a tremendous shot by Kristen.”
Banks made two outstanding saves in the first half to preserve the scoreless tie for the Crusaders. Wilton’s Emily Arrix had a point-blank shot with 17:40 to go in the half and Kailey Zengo had another with 2:30 left. But Banks came charging out of the net and made kick saves on both shots.
The Crusaders, outshot 10-1 in the game, started possessing the ball more, but had just as hard a time scoring as the Warriors.
When it looked like the game was headed for a second 10-minute overtime, the late penalty corner was awarded to Wilton, setting up Godin as the Warriors’ hero.
“When I got the ball I saw an opening, but two defenders were in front of me,” Godin said. “I worked the ball around them and hit the ball toward the goal. It was so surreal when I saw it go in. I still can’t believe I scored the game-winner off that penalty corner.”
Wilton goalie Lizette Roman-Johnston made the one save she had to and ended up with the shutout.