Field hockey: Warriors win state title on overtime goal (updated)

After failing to convert on 12 penalty corners over the course of 70 minutes of regulation time and overtime, the Wilton High field hockey team finally found its scoring touch after the game clock had run down to zero.

But the time was still right. That goal, by junior Kristen Godin, was enough to give the Warriors a 1-0 win over Lauralton Hall in the Class M state championship game on Saturday in Wethersfield.

The Warriors had to battle a stubborn Lauralton Hall defensive effort that saw every attempt by Wilton turned away. Wilton had significant edges in shots at goal (11-1) and penalty corners (13-4) for the game.

But Wilton kept at it and finally was rewarded on Godin’s dramatic game-winner.

The goal came after time had expired in the 10-minute overtime period, which had the teams playing seven vs. seven. With under 30 seconds left, Madison Hendry collected the ball about 30 yards from the goal and maneuvered through two defenders into the top of the circle, leading to a Wilton penalty corner with about 15 seconds left.

Since a team awarded a penalty corner is allowed to execute it before the period is officially over, the Warriors were able to initiate the play even though time had run out on the clock.

Emmie Arrix inserted the ball into play to Hendry on the right side of the circle, and Hendry sent a pass to the middle of the arc, where Godin did a nice job to settle the ball about six yards in front of the goal and get off a shot that went under charging Lauralton goalie Rashauna Banks and deflected off a stick into the right side of the cage.

“I said it was going to come down to heart — who has more heart. When we played Daniel Hand, in the second half that was the only thing I was a little frustrated with. Daniel Hand had heart,” head coach Deirdre Hynes said, referring to Wilton’s 2-1 win in the semifinals.

“I said, win or lose, whatever, walk on the field and play with your hearts on the line, and they did just that.”

The second-seeded Warriors (21-2) won their third straight state title, and fifth overall. It was the first loss of the season for Lauralton Hall, the top seed, which entered the game undefeated at 18-0-1.

“We’re used to being on the other side of this coin and charging the field after the victory, so this is new to us,” said Lauralton coach Kate Cavanagh. “Wilton’s a great team. They were able to just step up.”

The Warriors had nearly won the game at the end of regulation, after getting a penalty corner with under 40 seconds left to play. Hendry took the insertion pass at the top of the circle, carried to her right and blasted a shot that was deflected by Arrix past the goalie towards the right post, where Meg Cunningham was in position to score into the open cage. But Lauralton’s Lindsey Spitz had the goal line covered and blocked Cunningham’s point-blank shot to preserve the tie.

Lauralton Hall then nearly ended Wilton’s season with just under five minutes left in the overtime, when Maureen Connelly blocked a Wilton hit and slipped the ball ahead to Kara Duggan, who dodged a defender at the top of the arc and went in on a breakaway. Wilton goalie Lizette Roman-Johnston charged out and made a sliding play about 10 yards in front of the goal, with Arrix hustling back to clear the ball before another shot could be taken.

Wilton had dominated the first 20 minutes of the game, with seven penalty corners before Lauralton Hall even had one attack into the Wilton arc. The Crusaders, in fact, didn’t get the ball within 35 or 40 yards of the Wilton goal for the first 20 minutes of the game, as Wilton controlled the midfield with Hendry, Godin, Arrix, Cunningham, Delaney Baxendale, Maggie Mendola, Kailey Zengo, Meredith Rappaport, Jill Detrick-Yee, Annie Cornbrooks, Kylie Cafiero and Caroline Taverna.

The Warriors, however, could not convert their domination into goals, as Banks was spectacular in goal for Lauralton Hall, with 10 saves for the game.

At the five-minute mark, Banks made a sprawling save to deny a shot by Zengo, and a short time later made another save on a blast by Zengo from just inside the circle. On the ensuing penalty corner, Hendry took the ball from the top of the circle, dribbled through a few defenders and blasted a hit toward the left side of the cage, where Mendola’s deflection went behind Banks but off the right post.

The Warriors continued to push, with two shots by Hendry going wide and another good chance, by Baxendale, hitting another player’s leg. With under three minutes to go in the first half, Godin took the ball down the right side and rolled a pass into the front of goal, where Banks made the save on Rappaport’s shot.

Lauralton’s only real scoring chance of the first half came right at the end, with time expired, on a penalty corner when Roman-Johnston made a sprawling save on a shot by Alexa Dawid to the left of the goal.

Wilton kept the pressure on Lauralton in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but had trouble connecting on passes in the Crusaders’ end. Lauralton began to even things about with about 20 minutes to go in the second half, putting the pressure on the Wilton defense, which was anchored by the steady, poised play of center back Detrick-Yee.

Wilton regained control over the final 10 to 15 minutes of the half, with Banks making a save on Arrix (after a nice setup by Cunningham) with 10 minutes to go, and the Warriors having several unsuccessful corners down the stretch.

But after coming up empty so many times on corners, Wilton finally pulled one out in the end on Godin’s overtime winner.

“It’s a tough way to win a game and a tough way to lose a game, but the girls executed so I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Hynes said. “Lauralton Hall’s a fabulous team. I give them credit for how hard they played.”