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Girls’ Lacrosse Team Wins Another Close One With Rival Cheshire



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Although the Cheshire Rams may be from out of conference they certainly have become a notable rival for the Newtown High School girls’ lacrosse team. On April 12 the Nighthawks and Rams met for yet another thriller with Newtown winning yet again, 10-8 at Blue & Gold Stadium.

In each of the meetings in the previous two years, the Hawks prevailed in one-goal nail-biters, 14-13 and 12-11. The most recent installment of this matchup did not disappoint and was every bit as close as the final score indicates.

The Rams, in fact, jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Nighthawks battled back to take a 5-4 halftime advantage. It was 8-5 NHS at the end of three quarters but Cheshire eventually got back to within striking distance at 9-8 and had possession before Newtown got a key stop, insurance goal, and possession to run out the clock.

“They’re always a top-ten team. It’s always good to play them,” said Newtown Coach Maura Fletcher, whose team represents the South-West Conference while the Rams come from the Southern Connecticut Conference.

Newtown trailed 3-0 after the opening 12 minutes of play but dictated the tone with strong possessions in the second quarter.

Jules Battaglia scored in transition less than three minutes into the second, the first of four straight NHS tallies. Summer Harrell got possession off the ensuing draw and scored 23 seconds later to make it 3-2 with nine minutes showing on the scoreboard clock. The Hawks made it three goals in exactly a minute’s time as Brooke Bulkley took a feed from behind the net by Ava Mitchell and scored to knot things at 3-3 with 8:23 left in the half.

The teams traded tallies in the final two-plus minutes of the quarter. Harrell gave NHS its first lead on a low shot before the Rams stopped the bleeding and tied the score at 4 apiece less than a minute later. Natalie McLean weaved through defensive traffic and scored the go-ahead goal just 17 seconds before the intermission.

Battaglia faked a shot then whipped one home giving Newtown its first multi-goal edge early in the third. NHS goaltender Alexa Manfredonia made some key stops throughout the game, including one to keep NHS ahead 6-4 but Cheshire kept knocking and eventually got to within 6-5 with 7:25 left in the stanza.

Bulkley’s top-shelf net-finder pushed the lead back to two with 3:28 remaining. Harrell used her speed and quick release to score from straight on making it 8-5 with 44 seconds left until the fourth.

Battaglia, assisted by Bulkley, answered a Cheshire goal less than two minutes into the fourth but the Rams scored the next two. After Cheshire got within 9-7 and had possession Harrell came up with a big interception near the Nighthawk goal to help stymie the Rams. But they managed to find the back of the net with 3:48 left and had a chance to tie. Newtown’s defense stood tall and McLean capped the scoring when she took a cross-field pass from Harrell and deposited a back-breaker tally with 1:37 to go. The Hawks again got possession and took the remaining time off.

“I think a lot of people stepped up offensively,” said Mo Murphy, a defender who, along with Abby Ihlefeld, helped limit the Rams’ scoring chances in spots.

Harrell finished with three goals and two assists, Battaglia also netted a hat-trick, Bulkley had two goals and two assists, McLean scored twice, and Ava Mitchell contributed two assists.

Summer came away with six draw controls; McLean had four draw controls and two ground ball scoops; Battaglia, Mitchell, Murphy, Bulkley, and Jen Socci all had ground ball scoops; and Manfredonia made nine saves.

Newtown had beaten host Bethel 16-7 the day before. Harrell scored five times and collected nine draw controls. Battaglia had a six-point performance with three goals to go along with a trio of assists. McLean had three goals and three draw controls, Bulkley scored three of her own, Mitchell recorded a goal and an assist, and Ihlefeld scored.

Newtown posted a 16-1 victory over visiting Brookfield on April 16. “We had eight goal scorers, which showed how much we shared the ball and ten out of 16 goals assisted,” said Fletcher, adding that attackers did a great job with rides and the defense came away with some key interceptions.

Harrell had four goals and two assists, Bulkley three goals and three assists, McLean two goals and an assist, Battaglia and Nikki Kaplan both had two goals, Rachael Albrecht a goal and an assist, Reese Lischuk and Gabby O’Sullivan had goals, and Sara Ruddy, Mitchell, and Socci had assists.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com.

Brooke Bulkley (No. 11) defends as the Nighthawks take on Cheshire at Blue & Gold Stadium on April 12. Newtown came from behind for a 10-8 win. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Ava Mitchell (No. 3) looks to move past a Cheshire defender.
Jules Battaglia scoops a loose ball as Rachael Albrecht (No. 9) looks on.
Summer Harrell (No. 5) makes a move on a defender.
Ava Mitchell keeps her eyes on the bouncing ball as she gets possession.
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