Girls’ Lacrosse Team Will Strive To Bounce Back To Retain SWC Title

Photo: Andy Hutchison

Cassie Ekstrom (No. 13) runs with the ball as a Barlow player gives chase during Barlow's 10-9 win at Treadwell Park on May 19.

Throughout the years, Newtown High School’s girls’ lacrosse team has simply dominated its South-West Conference competition en route to nine straight conference titles. This year, the team endured more losses to its SWC counterparts (two) than it did in the previous six-plus seasons.

A year ago, New Fairfield ended the Nighthawks’ long run of unblemished success against their conference rivals with a win in the regular campaign, but that didn’t stop Newtown from keeping hold of its crown. This season, Brookfield and Joel Barlow of Redding found ways to beat the Nighthawks.

Newtown finished the regular slated with an overall record of 11-5, losing to a trio of tough nonconference foes, and posted a 4-2 mark in the SWC. The Hawks earned the tournament’s second seed behind Brookfield. They’ll take on the winner of a first-round game between third-seeded New Fairfield and No. 6 Pomperaug in the semifinals at Newtown High (that semifinal game is scheduled for Tuesday, May 27, at 5 pm).

During the regular season, Newtown defeated New Fairfield 11-8 and crushed Pomperaug 14-2. Fourth-seeded Joel Barlow will tangle with No. 5 Weston, the latter of which Newtown bested 15-9, in the other first-round playoff game.

The Nighthawks closed out the regular season with a tough 10-9 loss to Barlow at Treadwell Park on May 19. They got off to a slow start, falling behind 6-2 by the late stages of the opening half and, after getting a goal closer at the break, trailed 7-3 early in the second half. Newtown saw three unanswered goals finally answered by a pair of Barlow tallies and trailed 9-6 in the waning minutes of regulation.

Kristie VosWinkel scored to make it 9-7 with 5:24 to go, then brought her team to within one on a free position netfinder with 1:59 left.

A double-team defensive effort by Anna Northrop and VosWinkel led to a change of possession and VosWinkel eventually setting up Meaghan Brophy for the equalizer with 1:10 left. Newtown had possession with a chance to claim a late lead but the Falcons’ zone defense caused a turnover and the Falcons cashed in.

Newtown goaltender Kyle Dandrea, who made nine saves, came up with a stop on a free position shot with just 12 seconds showing on the scoreboard clock. The Falcons were awarded another free shot with just a few seconds remaining and Ramsey Walsh capitalized with the game-winner only a second before the final whistle.

Brophy had five goals, VosWinkel registered three goals and three assists, and Carley Ferris had Newtown’s other tally.

“They played good zone defense. It kind of disrupted our offense a little bit,” Newtown Coach Maura Fletcher said.

The coach was pleased with her team’s defensive prowess near the end of the game as the Hawks fended off the Falcons to give themselves a chance to complete the comeback. She’s like to see her team members work together more on offense and not rush the play when they have possession.

Fletcher is hopeful that the regular season-ending setback drives the team to do better in the upcoming conference tourney.

“It makes you work harder — you know you’re beatable,” she said.

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