WETHERSFIELD >> Hand field hockey coach Sue Leckey’s four previous trips to the Class M state championship game weren’t much fun.
The Tigers went 0-4.
On Saturday against Wilton at Wethersfield High, Leckey finally had some fun — and enjoyed the added benefit of sharing that good time with her daughter, Hannah, a senior defender for the Tigers.
Sue Leckey called it a “two-goal explosion” as Katie Omdahl and Sam Pavano scored 52 seconds apart in the second half to give Hand a 2-0 lead. The Tigers hung on for a 2-1 victory for their first state title.
“Those two girls were on fire, it was a lot of fun to see them score so quickly,” Leckey said. “We practice scoring quickly and that was a good explosion for us against a very good team. Sam Pavano is a big hitter and as soon as she hit it I knew it was going to go in the net.
“So now, we’ve won a state title and it feels good. There were some mixed emotions coaching my daughter for the last time. She wasn’t going to let this chance to win a state title for her mom pass her by. I’m so happy for my daughter, the 15 seniors on our team and all our players who worked hard for this.”
Hand finishes the season 17-2-1. Wilton is 16-3-1.
For most of the game it was a defensive struggle between the 20-yard lines with Hand ending up with three shots on goal and Wilton only two.
After a scoreless first half, Omdahl gave the Owls a 1-0 lead with 20:34 to go in the game. The ball bounced around during a scramble in front of the left post and when the ball squirted loose, Omdahl defelected it into the net.
With 19:42 to go, Pavano blasted a shot from about 12 yards out into the lower-left corner.
“We’ve been trying to get a state title for a long time and it took a two-goal explosion for us to do it,” Pavano said. “I was open at the top of the circle and just let go with a hard shot.”
The Warriors responded when Kristen Godin scored off a penalty corner to cut the lead to 2-1 with 17:16 to go. Leckey and the Tigers focused on defense the rest of the way and the Warriors didnt’ get another shot on goal.
“We had to work really hard for this,” Hannah Leckey said. “I am so glad I could help get this championship for my mom. At halftime, everybody agreed we had to give it everything we had in the second half. We never let up.
“Words can’t describe what it feels like to win this championship. But now that the game is over, I’m getting a little sad thinking about this being the last game I played for my mom.”
Hand 2, Wilton 1
Hand 0 2 — 2
Wilton 0 1 — 1
Second half—HD: Katie Omdahl 20:34; Samantha Pavano 19:42; Wil: Kristen Godin (Meg Cunningham) 17:16;
Shots—HD: 3; Wil: 2;
Saves—HD: Mel Rennie 1; Wil: Amanda Hendry 1;
Team records—Hand 17-2-1; Wilton 16-3-1