Defense wins Mills field hockey a state title
WETHERSFIELD - The saying is defense wins championships. Count the Lewis Mills field hockey teams as believers.
The top-seeded Spartans withstood every shot that No. 3 Granby threw at them and in the end Lewis Mills came away with a 3-0 victory in the Class S state title game Saturday morning at Wethersfield High School.
With the win the Spartans finish the season 19-0 and captured their first outright state title. Granby (16-2-0-1) made its 20th appearance in the title game and was looking for its 14th state title but instead had to settle for being the runner-up for the second straight season.
Mills took a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals by Sadie Robinson and Heather Carmody. In the second half Granby dominated possession but the Lewis Mills defense never buckled.
The Bears had 21 penalty corners, including 15 in the second half but time and time again they were turned away by the Spartans defense.
"The defense has been there all season long," Lewis Mills coach Maggie Tieman said. "it has been great to score over 60 goals but certainly today it was evident that defense wins championships."
Goalie Jillian Mazon finished with nine saves while senior Kelly Winterbottom was stout on defense, playing the flier position on the penalty corners and shadowing Granby's best offensive player, Olivia Johnson.
"Kelly is fearless, absolutely fearless. She not only has the drive and desire but she has the athleticism to go along with it," Tieman said. "She took Olivia Johnson out of the game as far as her effectiveness. I've never seen her have so few touches."
"It was pretty stressful on defense but we definitely stuck together as a team," Winterbottom said. "That whole second half was in the defensive end and near the end I thought wow, we really haven't had it in their end but it was fine. I was having fun out there."
Along with Winterbottom and Mazan, Andrah Stone, Emma Kryzanski and Abby Hoekman were defensive stalwarts for the Spartans.
"They really wanted it defensively," Granby coach Sandy Wickman Mason said. "Not that my kids didn't want it but we didn't capitalize on our chances and they played great defense and they had three chances and made them all count."
Lewis Mills previously lost to Granby in the Class S State title game in 1974, 2003 and 2009. The Spartans got by the Bears in the semifinals in 2005 when they eventually shared the state title with Haddam Killingworth. Now the Spartans are champs all by themselves and the only field hockey team in the state with a perfect record.
"We are the only ones with a perfect season. A perfect season with perfect kids," Tieman said. "We can't ask for anything more than what we have at Lewis Mills."