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East Lyme boys' lacrosse locks in for a win in state quarterfinal

Jun. 1—EAST LYME — Gary Wight could sense his East Lyme High School boys' lacrosse team possessed the right mindset prior to Saturday's CIAC Class M quarterfinal game.

"I knew today they were locked in," said Wight, East Lyme's veteran coach. "In the locker room, they were quiet and thinking about what was going on. When we were warming up, again, they were locked into what they were doing."

Mentally focused and well prepared, third-seeded East Lyme unloaded on No. 6 Pomperaug, scoring the game's first five goals and rolling to a 19-8 victory at Dick North Field.

East Lyme advanced to Wednesday's semifinals to play No. 2 Joel Barlow, which beat No. 10 Lyman Hall 16-4. Time and location for the semis have yet to be announced.

The Vikings (14-6) are riding some serious momentum after winning their first two state tournament games by a 35-9 margin. They tied a season high for goals on Saturday.

"We're meshing at the right time," Wight said. "The older guys have definitely embraced the younger guys and they're encouraging them, making them more confident."

Evidence backs that up.

In a dominating performance, East Lyme scored almost at will at times and a tight, disciplined defense limited Pomperaug's quality shot attempts. Junior goalie John Whewell did his part, making 12 saves.

Sophomore Gabe Hanney (seven goals, three assists), senior Jack Campbell (five goals, three assists) and senior Drew Sager (four goals, five assists) fueled the attack.

The Vikings went right to work, jumping to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter.

Campbell opened the scoring by firing in a shot from the doorstep, starting an offensive barrage that resulted in the Vikings scoring five goals — two by Campell, three by Hanney — in a 3-minute, 25-second span.

"We've been trying to do that all year," Campbell said about the fast start. "Sometimes we come out hot. Today was one of those days. It was awesome for us. We never stepped off their throats and it was a great win."

The Vikings were in complete control, leading 13-4 halftime. They kept the pressure on, outscoring their overmatched opponent 6-0 in the third quarter.

Both teams went deep into their benches in the fourth quarter.

Saturday's quarterfinal represented the last home game for 11 seniors on the East Lyme roster.

"To win like this on this field, it means everything," Campbell said.

East Lyme will be well-rested and ready to go on Wednesday.

The Vikings worked hard all season to reach this point.

"We're working really hard in practice to try to be the best team we can be," Campbell said, "and it's paying off. ... We're aiming for the state championship. This is our year."

East Lyme will face much stiffer competition in the semifinals. The Vikings played a challenging nonconference schedule to help them get ready for big moments like Wednesday.

"We played some tough teams with Notre Dame-West Haven and Guilford and they're pretty quality teams," Wight said. "We understand the speed of the sport and what we need to do."

g.keefe@theday.com