Girls Lacrosse Pomperaug reaches SWC final, to meet New Fairfield
NEWTOWN—The Pomperaug girls lacrosse team got off to a fast start in Monday’s SWC semifinal against Newtown, and played a strong 48 minutes to hold a commanding lead late.
They needed every single one of those goals by the time the final horn sounded.
Despite a stern test from a team it tied during the regular season, the Pomperaug girls lacrosse team kept its championship hopes alive by surviving a late Nighthawks rally, prevailing 12-11. Newtown scored three goals in the final minute to almost complete a sensational comeback.
But it was the Panthers who secured their first SWC final spot since 2016. First dodging the rain and then the Nighthawks, Pomperaug held off a furious late charge when it secured a draw win with 11 seconds left after Elana Sughrue pulled to within 12-11.
“We all needed to keep pushing hard because they had the momentum,” said Panthers senior Katie Schenk, who fired a hat trick in the win. “We had that lead but as long as we kept our heads up those last 10 seconds we would have taken it away. ... We were very excited, if they got it we would have had to keep pushing.”
Jessica Evans scored four times and dished out two assists for the third-seeded Panthers, who will face New Fairfield on Wednesday for the title. Pomperaug — which never trailed — jumped out to leads whenever Newtown threatened, including pulling away midway through the second half to hold a 10-6 advantage.
“Our defense gave us a lot of looks that we were able to score off of today,” said Panthers coach Danielle McCauley. “Molly Flanagan had probably one of the best games I’ve seen her have; just being aggressive and knocking the passes down. We were able to get it up the field today.”
The Nighthawks got four goals from Rylee Harrell and two each from Keeley Kortze and Shea Murphy. Newtown’s late surge came just seconds too late, coach Maura Fletcher said.
“(The comeback) showed they have a lot of heart and work really hard,” Fletcher said. “They never gave up; it just started too late. Early on we were too timid defensively and we were letting them set up plays and they dictated the momentum of the game.”
The top-seeded Rebels held off a stern challenge from Barlow, winning 7-6 thanks to a goal from Nicole Berry with 5:47 left. New Fairfield went without a goal for about 25 minutes before finally breaking through.
The game was largely a battle between two outstanding goalies as New Fairfield’s Rachel Mikolay (nine saves) and Barlow’s Megan Florkowski (seven) traded stellar stops with the teams deadlocked.
“(Barlow) was playing a good defense and we really weren’t adapting to it,” Rebels coach Karen Nell said. “We came up with the goal and the defense did (its) job. Rachel kept us in the game as well.”
The Falcons had one final opportunity to send the game to overtime coming out of a timeout with the ball at midfield with 28 seconds left, but a turnover led to the Rebels running out the clock and running to Mikolay in celebration.
“It feels amazing, our team has worked so hard for this,” Berry said. “We have a title to defend. … we have a target on our backs; we have to bring it all every game.”
Julia Shapiro scored three times for Barlow, which will be one of the teams to beat in Class M.
A near-perfect season that seems destined to end in postseason hardware turned suddenly into a rallying cry for New Fairfield, which suffered a massive blow with two games left in the regular season.
But midfielder Sydney Colesworthy’s knee injury late in the team’s one-goal loss to Staples might serve as yet another motivator to end 2019 with SWC and Class S titles.
“It’s heartbreaking and we’re all so close,” Berry said. “It’s something that our team can definitely come back from. But we’re going to have to adjust; it was a struggle (today) because she was a key player.”
POMPERAUG 12, NEWTOWN 11
POMPERAUG 7 5 — 12
NEWTOWN 5 6 — 11
Scoring: P—Katie Schenk 3g Mia Sullivan 1g Cassie Reilly 2g Maris DiBeneditto 1g Camden Frissora 1g Jessica Evans 4g, 2a. N—Allison Kelleher 1g Olivia Hage 1g, 1a Elena Sughrue 1g Rylee Harrell 4g Shea Murphy 2g Keeley Kortze 2g, 1a. Goalies: P—Catherine Windover (9 saves); N—Tess Davenport (5 saves).
NEW FAIRFIELD 7, BARLOW 6
BARLOW 4 2 — 6
NEW FAIRFIELD 6 1 — 7
Scoring: B—Julia Shapiro 3g, Bella Miceli 1g Emily Grob 2g. NF—Nicole Berry 2g Kate Nieves 2g Reagan Tenaglia 2g. Goalies: B—Megan Florkowski (7 saves); NF—Rachel Mikolay (9 saves).