WATERTOWN >> Lewis Mills’ girls lacrosse team never trailed in a 12-7 win over Housatonic for the Spartans’ fifth straight Western Connecticut Lacrosse Conference championship Thursday evening at Watertown High School.
Rachel Hedden scored the first Mills goal a minute into the game on her way to five goals for the Spartans.
“We wanted to keep our energy up for the entire game,” Hedden said.
Energy and a physical game fueled five unanswered Lewis Mills goals in the first 15 minutes.
“We came to play, but we didn’t have a strong start,” said Housatonic’s Amanda Jacquier. “It’s really hard to come back against a team like that.”
“When teams are physical, we don’t respond well,” said Housatonic Coach Spike Magyar.
Part of the problem is the rules.
Despite a plethora of whistles for physical play in Thursday’s game – many of them against the Mountaineers – physical play is allowed, explained Mills Coach
Dee Stephan, who helps write the rules as a member of the national rules committee.
“You’re not allowed to use sticks to the body,” Stephan explained.
“This is a hard game,” said Coach Magyar. “In basketball, you have maybe 10 rules to follow. In lacrosse, there are 100 rules open to interpretation.”
In addition to great stick work, the Spartans used physical play like an art form on defense.
At the other end, Hedden, Hanako Agresta, Wickie Galicka, Hedden again and Emma Gentile raced through the Mountaineer defense for their opening pile of goals.
The two teams played each other twice in the regular season with just a single goal separating both Mills wins.
Down 5-0, the Mountaineers started back.
Grace Lancto came around the left post for Housy’s first goal. Maebel Spencer and Maddie Horosky scored off restarts.
Five minutes from the end of the first half, it was a game again, 5-3.
Mills wasn’t having it.
Agresta, Elizabeth Krenicky and Hedden scored goals, ending the first half with an 8-3 advantage.
Hedden made it 9-3 at the start of the second half.
Housatonic could only hang on.
Horosky and Lancto brought it to 9-5.
Spartan Abigail White stretched it to 10-5.
Jacquier scored the final two Housy goals.
Hedden and Drew Stewart answered for Mills.
In a sport that rivals ice hockey in the difficulty of stopping speeding shots, Mills goalkeeper Kenya Jurado and Housatonic’s Molly Dowd each made eight saves.
Dowd is a natural as the Mountaineers girls soccer keeper in the fall.
Jurado, in goal for four years for the Spartans, began in a scrimmage in which there was no goalie.
“I’ll do it,” she said, staying there ever since.
The two teams will face each other for the fourth time this year in the first round of the Class S State Tournament next week.
It puts the Spartan lacrosse team in much the same position Mills’ girls soccer team often finds itself – dominant in the league, but ill-prepared for other state teams because of lack of regular-season contact with them.
“I really wish we could play each other just once in the regular season so we could face some of these outside teams, win or lose,” said Coach Stephan. “Our league is improving, but our ultimate goal is to get ready for states.”
Nobody in the league has improved more than Housatonic.
Last year, the Mountaineers were 5-10. So far this year, they’re 11-7, beating the league’s other perennial power, Watertown, to reach the finals.
Western Connecticut Lacrosse Conference Championship
Lewis Mills 12, Housatonic 7
At Watertown High School
Housatonic 3 4 – 7
Lewis Mills 8 4 – 12
Goals: H – Grace Lancto 2; Maebel Spencer; Maddie Horosky 2; Amanda Jacquier 2. LM – Rachel Hedden 5; Hanako Agresta 2; Wickie Galicka; Emma Gentile; Elizabeth Krenicky; Abigail White; Drew Stewart. Saves: H – Molly Dowd 8. LM – Kenya Jurado 8.
Records: Housatonic 11-7; Lewis Mills 13-5.