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The Woodstock Academy girls’ lacrosse team members proudly displays their first-ever ECC tournament championship plaque at E. Lyme High School. Photo by Jeremy Useted/Woodstock Academy.

Centaur girls
are lacrosse
ECC champs
Under pressure.
It was the best way to describe Woodstock Academy goalie Kileigh Gagnon May 23.
Stonington’s Kate Johnson, who had 104 points coming into the ECC tournament championship match, had several free position shots in the closing minutes of the game.
Only one got through.
Gagnon’s excellent work helped the fourth-seeded Centaurs capture their first-ever ECC title with an 11-9 win over No. 3 Stonington at E. Lyme High School.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘Watch the ball’ and I wasn’t going to let her intimidate me. She is an amazing player. I just moved to the ball, moved as quick as I could, and everything worked out,” Gagnon said.
The Bears got close in the second half, but were never able to take the lead or even tie the game.
When the final buzzer sounded, Woodstock Academy coach Kathleen Johnson went running out on to the field, hands raised in a victory salute to her team.
The lacrosse team joins the Woodstock Academy girls’ volleyball and girls’ soccer team as teams that put up ECC tournament championship banners in the Alumni Fieldhouse this season.
“It’s so special. It’s the first ECC (tournament) win. Now, we get to go on the gym wall and it’s a first for girls’ lacrosse. It’s really fun for us and meant a lot for us to win,” said senior Emma Ciquera.
The Centaurs (15-3) started early against the Bears.
Stonington struck first when Emma Sabbadini came out from behind the Woodstock Academy goal, spun around two defenders, and tucked the ball into the net just 1 minute, 5 seconds into the game.
The Centaurs tied the game when Ciquera went on a 40-yard gallop four minutes later and her solo effort produced the tying goal.
Woodstock Academy won the draw and just 12 seconds later, Ivy Gelhaus found Arielle Johnson for the goal that put the Centaurs ahead to stay.
Peyton Saracina followed with two consecutive goals within 24 seconds of one another off assists from Arielle Johnson and Ciquera.
Megan Detwiler briefly cut the lead to two, but Arielle Johnson answered to put the Centaurs back up, 5-2.
Arielle Johnson was strong not only in front of the net but in the middle of the field where she effectively battled both Kate Johnson and Kathryn Logel and won her share of draws.
“It helped our confidence to know that we could win some draws, because I knew they were strong there. We battled hard in the circle, did a great job there, and draw control is so key,” Kathleen Johnson said.
The two teams exchanged goals before the half with Gelhaus getting her only tally of the game to put the Centaurs ahead, 6-3, at the break.
“Our goal was just to come out strong,” Arielle Johnson said. “We had to set the pace. Stonington is very good at maintaining the ball and keeping possession. We knew we had to counter that and just come out fast. We have so many fast girls in the midfield, they are all so athletic, and we had to take advantage of that.”
One of those fast players, senior Aislin Tracey, gave the Centaurs their biggest lead coming out of the brief halftime.
Tracey scored her 17th and 18th goals of the season within 53 seconds of each other just minutes into the second half to put Woodstock Academy up, 8-3.
The expected comeback by the Bears (15-3) followed.
Kate Johnson scored two goals off free position opportunities and Sabbadini scored her second of the game and, all of a sudden, the Bears were back within two with plenty of time, 15 minutes, left on the game clock.
“Very concerned,” Kathleen Johnson said of the situation. “I told the girls it comes down to heart and guts.”
The Woodstock Academy coach said the talk in the timeout that followed Sabbadini’s goal was that the team does interval training at practice and the Centaurs should just consider it an extension of that.
“We got this,” Kathleen Johnson said she told her team.
Emma Redfield and Ciquera scored to boost the advantage to four goals again with 12 minutes left.
Kate Johnson and Sabbadini scored again for the Bears to cut the Centaurs lead to two, but Ciquera scored her 66th goal of the season with 3:52 left to give the Centaurs the 3-goal advantage.
Ciquera, who finished with three goals and one assist, was named Most Valuable Player.
“I was surprised to be named MVP because I feel I couldn’t really do it without my teammates. I think a lot of other people should have got it,” Ciquera said.
Arielle Johnson disagreed with that.
“I’m so proud of Emma. MVP. She definitely deserves it and Kileigh played outstanding. We couldn’t have won without her,” Arielle Johnson said.
Four years ago, saying they wanted to win a title was just that, a saying, a lofty goal that was out of reach at the time.
The dream became reality May 23.
“I think it’s been a goal for us since freshman year,” senior Arielle Johnson said of the lacrosse title. “Every year, we have got better, made new goals and achieved them. At the beginning of the year, this was our goal and our motto is ‘Whatever it takes’ and we did whatever it takes to win.”
The Centaurs advanced to the final with a 16-5 semifinal victory over top-seeded Montville May 21.
Ciquera scored four goals and added an assist to lead the Centaurs in scoring against the Indians.
Arielle Johnson (1 assist) and Gelhaus (61 goals this season) added three goals each.
Redfield added a pair of goals while Tracey, Saracina, Rachel Canedy, and Eliza Dutson added a goal apiece.
The Centaurs season continued May 28 when they hosted St. Joseph in a Class M state tournament first round match at the Bentley Athletic Complex. The game ended too late for this edition.
Boys’ Lacrosse
The Woodstock Academy boys’ lacrosse team ran into a strong opponent in their first foray into the state tournament since 2016.
The Avon Falcons, the 15th seed out of the Central Connecticut Conference, struck early and often May 24 on their home field and downed the 18th-seeded Centaurs, 16-4, in a Class M qualifying round match.
The loss ended the Centaurs’ season at 8-9.
“I would say eight wins is progress the program can be proud of,” said coach Michael Noel. “We need players that are going to make the commitment to improve their game in the offseason. Hopefully, we return next year with improved skills and take another step forward.”
Avon (9-7) had nine goals by the middle of the second quarter and led 10-3 at the break.
“Avon was a good attacking team full of athletes. We had a tough time keeping up with their speed especially in transition,” Noel said.
Sophomore Guerin Favreau scored a pair of goals, both of those came in the first half, to give him 43 on the season.
He also assisted on both of the other Centaur goals. That raised his assist total to 29 and gave him 72 points for the year.
Senior Ethan Holcomb, who will be headed to Keene State to play Division III college lacrosse,  had the other two goals to give him 28 on the season. Add his 29 assists to that total and Holcomb finished with 57 points on the year.
Senior Ethan Haass, the team’s third-leading scorer with 31 points, added an assist in the game.
Seth Libby (29 points) and Austen LeDonne (13) rounded out the top five scorers for the season.
While the loss ended the season, at least, the Centaurs were able to play one more game than they had in the recent past.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director
The Woodstock Academy



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