Junior Sophie Spencer, a midfielder on the Branford girls lacrosse team, and her teammates had high expectations entering the 2017 season.
The goal was to be playing in June with a deep run in the CIAC Class M tournament.
The Hornets had experience, talent and depth with a balanced scoring attack, solid midfield and solid defense.
But it wasn’t until the Hornets came away with a 13-12 regular-season win over SCC rival Hand on May 16 that the Hornets gained the confidence they needed heading into the postseason.
“We had high hopes for the season but we had some tough losses before that Hand game,” Spencer said.
Branford lost 13-12 in overtime to Lauralton Hall on May 8 and lost 13-12 in overtime to Pomperaug on May 13.
“We ended up getting a really big win over Hand and that gave us an indication and the confidence that we could be successful in the postseason. It felt good to get that win and it created some momentum for us, ” Spencer said.
The Hornets would end up cruising through the Class M tournament led by Spencer’s prolific scoring. She led Branford to the CIAC Class M title with nine goals and an assist in a 16-13 win over East Lyme in the semifinals and had six goals and an assist in a 15-8 win over Pomperaug in the final.
Branford became the first Southern Connecticut Conference girls lacrosse team to win a state title. Spencer ended up with 90 goals and 11 assists for the season and for her effort she was selected the Register Area girls lacrosse most valuable player.
“It was a team effort during the Class M tournament and in the championship game,” Spencer said. “Everyone contributed. But I do play better in the bigger games. I thrive on the high pressure and it helps me play better.”
Branford coach Jackie Ceccolini wasn’t surprised by Spencer’s dominant play in the postseason.
“I expect that from Sophie because she is a pressure player,” Ceccolini said. “She loves the sport. She’s an exciting player and she’s been an unbelievable athlete.”
Spencer, who also competes on the cross country team, has made a verbal commitment to play lacrosse at Quinnipiac.