OLD LYME>> The deeper you advance in the state tournament, the more important defense becomes.
East Catholic’s zone defense played just well enough on Saturday to hold off Old Lyme, 6-5 in the Class S quarterfinals at Lyme-Old Lyme High School.
“I’d like a few more guys to score a few more goals,” East Catholic coach Glenn Boggini said. “But I’m just proud of them. We did what we had to. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t our best game. But that’s what happens. You’re on the road, there’s pressure, you have to remember they’re kids and sometimes the routine easy stuff becomes harder when there’s pressure.”
No. 6 East Catholic advances to play No. 7 Brookfield in the Class S semifinals on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Cheshire High School.
No. 8 St. Joseph plays East’s rival, No. 5 Northwest Catholic, in the other semifinal at 7:15. The winner plays for the state championship.
This the furthest East Catholic’s lacrosse program has ever advanced in the state tournament.
“Now with four teams left, they’re all good,” Boggini said. “If you make mistakes, you’re going to pay for them.”
The final line of defense for the Eagles is goalie Brendan Casey. The sophomore stopped 13 shots and held Old Lyme scoreless in the first quarter.
“The [defense] definitely helped out,” Casey said. “They kept everyone outside which made it easy.”
East Catholic has allowed an average of 5.75 goals per game this season and Old Lyme has averaged 15.4 goals scored.
“Brendan played great in goal and the defense showed up,” Boggini said. [We] played just good enough.”
East Catholic switched to a zone defense during its game against RHAM on May 20 and has been using it since.
“We knew they had a zone defense and we had developed offenses to address it,” Old Lyme coach John Flower said. “We just didn’t execute as well as we would have liked to.”
The East Catholic offense didn’t have its best game, but that can be attributed to the Old Lyme defense which held the Eagles to one goal in the second half.
“You’re on the road, it’s never easy,” Boggini said.
Trevor Wilcox put one past Seth Rohrberg with 4:27 left in the first to give the Eagles the lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Patrick Hills and Billy Heaney added two more to take a 3-0 lead after one quarter.
Old Lyme got on the board in the second with three goals. The latter two by Ashton Bohan, but every time the Wildcats scored, the Eagles answered.
Old Lyme was unable to score consecutive goals the entire game.
“We just needed to get more ball movement, movement off the ball,” Flower said. “We just didn’t get enough.”
The Wildcats came out of halftime and hit the post twice before Joab Hunt was able to find the back of the net with 7:15 on the clock to cut the deficit to 5-4.
Thomas Fan scored the eventual winning goal with just over a minute remaining in the third to send East Catholic to the semifinals for the first time in program history.
Jacob Watts-St. Germain scored for Old Lyme late in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats were unable to get possession to tie the game.
East Catholic: 3 2 1 0 — 6
Old Lyme: 0 3 1 1 — 5
Goals: EC -Billy Heaney (2), Patrick Hills, Thomas Fan, Connor Goldberg, Trevor Wilcox; OL-Ashton Bohan (2), Jacob Watts-St. Germain, Joab Hunt.
Assists: EC-Tom Callahan, Joe Voss, Goldberg, Wilcox; OL-Bohan (2), Jacob Fenton, Ian Humphreys.
Saves: EC-Brendan Casey (13); OL-Seth Rohrberg (4).
Shots: EC-24; OL-27.
Face-offs: EC-8; OL-7.
Ground balls: EC-29; OL-25.
Records: East Catholic 15-4; Old Lyme 15-3.