SOUTHBURY – Not even being in the unfamiliar role as the underdog – albeit a slight one – could stop Newtown High School’s girls’ lacrosse team from coming out on top in the South-West Conference tournament.
Second-seeded Newtown avenged a regular-season loss to No. 1 Brookfield to win the SWC’s Division I championship in a 12-8 triumph on the turf at Pomperaug High on May 29.
Kristie VosWinkel netted five goals, Emily Maher and Carley Ferris both scored three, and Meaghan Brophy added one in the win. Goaltender Kyle Dandrea made nine saves, and a stellar defensive effort led by Most Valuable Player Cassie Ekstrom, enabled the Nighthawks to hand the Bobcats their only loss to an SWC D-I foe this spring.
The win was the program’s tenth straight and made Coach Maura Fletcher, set to retire following the state playoffs, a perfect ten for ten in SWC tournaments while directing the Hawks.
“I think this is the best feeling of all because they had to work so hard for it,” said Fletcher, whose team graduated several key players from last year’s squad.
A big key to the turnaround against Brookfield, which won a May 1 matchup 9-7, was patience with the ball, Fletcher said.
“We definitely had patience on offense,” Maher said. “And we felt more comfortable playing them the second time, and we came together as a team today.”
VosWinkel scooped six ground balls, Lindsay Jagoe had four ground ball scoops, and Anna Northrop had three.
Newtown established an early 6-2 lead and fended off the Bobcats throughout the rest of the evening. Brookfield closed to within 7-5 at the half and pulled to within a goal at 7-6 early in the second half.
After Maher scored for an 8-6 lead, the Bobcats quickly made it 8-7 with about 17 minutes to play. Brookfield, which possessed the ball for long periods of time, had control for the next several minutes but couldn’t get the equalizer.
Once Newtown finally got the ball, the Hawks didn’t take long to pad the lead. Brophy and Maher scored just 32 seconds apart for a 10-7 lead with 11:13 to go.
The Bobcats got to within 10-8 with 8:56 left, but Brophy set up Ferris as Newtown regained its three-goal edge with 6:36 remaining. With just 2:30 showing on the scoreboard clock, Ferris again found the back of the net. Maher split a pair of defenders and got the ball to Ferris for the final tally of the game.
“It was really competitive and both teams fought ’til the end,” Northrop said.