— CT Sports Now (@CT_Sports_Now) November 13, 2018
WEST HAVEN — If you ask anyone in the Shoreline Conference what the consistencies are, they would be sure to mention a couple of things. One is the Old Lyme Wildcats know how to win, and the second is Old Lyme senior Mya Johnson clearly knows how to score.
Both came true Monday evening as Johnson scored three times, raising her career total to 99 goals, and the 14th-seeded Wildcats topped No. 7 East Hampton 3-1 in the Class S semifinals at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
“We have wanted this since the beginning of the season,” Johnson said of returning to the team’s fourth straight championship contest. “In the past years, we did not lose a lot. We didn’t know how that felt. We lost some games this season and maybe that has helped us.”
Old Lyme (12-4-4) advances to Saturday’s Class S finals for the fourth straight season, having won the last two titles outright. The Wildcats will play No. 4 Immaculate, a 3-0 winner over Coginchaug in the other semifinal, Saturday at a site and time to be determined, looking to win their third straight Class S title.
“These girls have worked hard all season long,” Old Lyme coach Paul Gleason said. “We lost some games when we were down in numbers, but we are healthy now. We have been playing pretty good. We changed a few things around and they are working perfectly right now. We are happy with those right now.”
East Hampton (10-3-4) looked as if it was going to be blanked in the semifinal contest, not getting a quality opportunity until 20 minutes, 55 seconds remained in the game when Meagan McLaughlin re-directed a shot over the goal from 15 yards out.
The Bellringers trailed 1-0 after Johnson scored in the opening half and looked as if time was slipping away on a season which included plenty of fine moments.
Senior Kayla Field gave her team one more of those moments along with the hope the Bellringers would advance to their first state championship when she lofted a shot from 26 yards out just over the head of Old Lyme goalkeeper Samantha Gray with 15:02 to go in regulation.
“Our group is a hard-working, blue collar group,” East Hampton coach Glenn Gustine said. “When we scored, we thought we had enough to make a run. But, I have to congratulate Old Lyme. They are a phenomenal team led by an incredible player (Johnson). To score 100 goals in her career and three tonight is pretty amazing.”
With the game even at 1, Johnson took over, scoring a pair of unassisted goals in a span of 2:14. Johnson’s first goal with 10:51 remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good, but her third of the game minutes later was highlight reel material.
Controlling the ball off a steal, Johnson moved the ball to her off foot, and took a left-footed shot which beat East Hampton goalkeeper Ally Williams for the final dagger in East Hampton’s season.
“I think it is all about the one chance you get,” Johnson said. “You don’t get that many chances in soccer. You have to make the most of the chances you get. I thought with the goal, we could get the momentum going our way. As a senior and as a captain, you want to pick everyone up. I think people were feeling it was their fault that they (East Hampton) scored. It was not the defense’s fault. We just have to pick each other up and that’s what we try to do.”
Old Lyme controlled play in the opening half and scored the lone goal in the first 40 minutes. After mounting the pressure, the Wildcats finally got on the board with 11:51 to go in the opening half.
Johnson, who entered the contest with 96 career goals and 81 entering the season, was at it again. Taking a perfect lead pass from Lydia Tinnerello, Johnson raced past the defense and headed a shot over Williams for a 1-0 lead.
“She started the season with a pulled groin, then it moved to a pulled quad and a sprained ankle,” Gleason said of Johnson. “She has had an injury-plagued season. But, the last six games, we have had everyone healthy. She is a amazing player.”
The Wildcats were on the attack from the start as Britney DeRoehn headed a shot wide 2:35 in, and Johnson followed suit off a corner kick seconds later. Kaylee Armenia had her shot from 25 yards out turned aside 17:20 in, and a blast by Johnson from 28 yards out with 2:30 to go in the half sailed over the net.
Old Lyme had a 19-2 shot advantage in the game, with Gray making one save for the Wildcats. Williams made 16 saves in the loss for East Hampton.
Player of the Game
Mya Johnson — The Old Lyme senior scored three times, increasing her total to 99 for her career. Her second of the game switched the momentum back to Old Lyme’s side minutes after East Hampton scored the equalizer.
“She has that indomitable spirit to keep going all the time. The amazing thing with her is she is so coachable. She is so friendly. And the thing about her is it is just a game to her and she plays like it.”
— Old Lyme coach Paul Gleason on Mya Johnson
OLD LYME 3, EAST HAMPTON 1
OLD LYME 1 2 – 3
EAST HAMPTON 0 1 – 1
First Half — Goals: O: Mya Johnson (Lydia Tinnerello) 11:51; Seond Half — E: Kayla Field 15:02; O: Mya Johnson 10:51; O: Mya Johnson 8:37