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Granby girls play for state championship on Saturday against Stonington

Granby's Molly Freedman (9) looks for open space in last month's NCCC Tournament final against Avon.

Granby’s Molly Freedman (9) looks for open space in last month’s NCCC Tournament final against Avon.

GRANBY – The players had packed up their gear and were moving toward the bus. Granby girls lacrosse coach Terri Ziemnicki finished up some interviews with the local media following Avon’s 14-12 win over Granby in the NCCC championship game.

It was the Bears’ fourth loss of the season and the third time they had lost to Avon. Granby led at halftime by one but the Falcons took advantage of a few miscues to pull away and win the NCCC tournament for the third straight season.

Ziemnicki was disappointed and so were her players. As she walked toward the bus, she bid the media goodbye but said with a grin, “we’ll see you at the finals” implying that Granby would be playing for a state championship in two weeks.

She was right. The No. 4 Granby girls lacrosse team (17-4) is seeking its first-ever state championship on Saturday when they face No. 2 Stonington (20-1) at 3:30 p.m. in the Class S championship game at Bunnell High in Stratford.

Granby's Olivia Johnson has a team-leading 17 goals in three games in the Class S tournament.

Granby’s Olivia Johnson has a team-leading 17 goals in three games in the Class S tournament.

This is Granby’s third appearance in the Class S final in four years. In 2011, Weston handed Granby a one-goal loss, 8-7. A year later, Northwest Catholic prevailed over Granby with a 12-10 decision.

The Bears have played well in the Class S tournament. They allowed just seven goals each in dominating victories over Morgan, 18-7, and Lewis Mills, 17-7, in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Granby prevailed, 13-12 in a thrilling victory over Bethel. The Wildcats tied the score with 1:41 remaining in regulation on the fifth goal of the game by Eloise Gagnon.

But Granby wasted little time. Olivia Johnson won the faceoff and dished it to Krista Iwanicki, who scored with 1:25 left in the game. Bethel won the following draw at center field but Johnson intercepted a Bethel pass with 30 seconds remaining to run out the clock.

Johnson has been outstanding in the state tournament with a team-high 17 goals in three games. Iwanicki has 10 goals while Molly Freedman and Abby Orosz have seven each. Goalie Hala Van Norstand has been solid in net.

Stonington is making its first championship game appearance. Stonington went 16-0 in the Eastern Connecticut Conference but was upset by East Lyme in the ECC Tournament final, 7-5.

Stonington has played well on its way to the final with a pair of one-goal decisions. Stonington dominated Northwest Catholic, 13-5 before slipping past Immaculate-Danbury, 9-8 and beating Old Lyme, 12-11 in the semifinal.

Elizabeth Morrison had the game-winning goal with two minutes left in the win over Immaculate. Morrison had three goals and two assists while Emily Grey and Jenny Sieckiewicz had two goals each. Goalie Lexi Bucko earned the win in net.

In the semifinal win over Old Lyme, Stonington scored two goals in the final 1:27 to help the Bears earn the victory. Old Lyme scored with 1:27 remaining to give the Wildcats a one-goal lead, 11-10. Morrison scored of an assist from Sieckiewicz with 41 seconds remaining.

Old Lyme won the next draw but Stonington intercepted the ball to gain possession.Sieczkiewicz took the pass from Morrison and raced down the field, scoring with less than 20 seconds remaining to lift Stonington into the championship game.

NOTES: With the five goals against Old Lyme, Sieczkiewicz moved into second place on the school’s all-time career scoring list with 142 goals. … Both teams have the nickname “Bears.”

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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