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Girls’ Lacrosse Team Uses First-Half Dominance To Edge Masuk On The Road



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MONROE — Newtown High School’s girls’ lacrosse team’s visit to South-West Conference rival Masuk on May 4 was the story of two halves. Fortunately for the Nighthawks their 10-2 lead through two quarters stood up — just barely — in a 12-10 victory.

Having overcome a 9-0 halftime deficit to defeat host and nonconference foe Conard of West Hartford 11-10 in the season-opener, and knowing how strong Masuk is (unbeaten in SWC play entering into the game), the Nighthawks were not caught sleeping. It just came down to possession, as is typically the case in lacrosse, and the Nighthawks had established a large enough lead to fend off an opponent that found the momentum in the third and fourth quarters.

The Nighthawks have not forgotten about the season-opening comeback and know that there are plenty of formidable opponents in the South-West Conference.

“We always reference that — any day, anybody can win,” Newtown Coach Steph Suhoza said. “No lead is safe this year — not in the SWC.”

Newtown improved to 10-3 overall and has been involved in a trio of one-goal tilts with SWC competition, edging Joel Barlow of Redding and falling to Weston and New Fairfield. Technically, there was one other one-goal game, but the 1-0 win over the visiting Stratford-Bunnell co-op on May 3 came via forfeit due to a goaltender injury during warm-ups.

In the Masuk game, the Panthers had possession, down two goals, with two-plus minutes remaining — plenty of time to continue the comeback — but a false start all against Masuk’s offense turned the ball over and Newtown ran out the clock.

“Lacrosse is a game of possession and fortunately at the end we had it and took care of it and sealed the win,” Suhoza said. “They hung on against a great SWC program.”

Newtown built its big lead behind four goals by Summer Harrell in the first half. The Panthers went on a 5-0 scoring run in the third quarter to pull to within 10-7. Harrell scored again, on a free position shot, with just 15 seconds left in the stanza. It was 11-7 heading to the fourth.

Jules Battaglia wrapped around the Masuk net and scored to make it 12-7 with 9:40 to play; Masuk took just over two minutes to again trim the deficit to three. Both defenses held strong for nearly five minutes until the Panthers tallied again and found themselves just two goals behind with 2:54 remaining.

Harrell finished with five goals and an assist, Brooke Bulkley netted three goals and added a hat-trick’s worth of assists as well, Ava Mitchell scored twice, Natalie McLean had a goal and an assist, and Battaglia had that key insurance marker.

The Nighthawks went to Notre Dame-Fairfield on May 7 and won their 11th game with a 19-0 victory.

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

Mo Murphy, left, moves the ball past a Masuk player from Newtown’s end of the field during her team’s 12-10 road win on May 4. —Bee Photos, Hutchison
Jen Socci, left, defends for the Nighthawks.
Summer Harrell, left, defends as Baily Bajda competes for Masuk.
Nikki Kaplan is in position for the Hawks.
Natalie McLean escapes pressure from the Masuk defense.
Jules Battaglia circles around the net looking to set up a play.
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