Freshman leads New Fairfield girls lacrosse to Class S final matchup with Lauralton Hall

New Fairfield freshman Brenna Romanello scored the winning goal in Tuesday's 11-10 CIAC Class S girls lacrosse semifinal win over Weston.

New Fairfield freshman Brenna Romanello scored the winning goal in Tuesday's 11-10 CIAC Class S girls lacrosse semifinal win over Weston.

Michael Fornabaio / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Brenna Romanello went to the 8-meter line, a New Fairfield freshman awarded a free position Tuesday night at Law with one second left in a tied Class S girls lacrosse semifinal.

“My sister came up to me, put trust in me,” Brenna Romanello said; her sister is Ava, a senior. “She gave me all the good vibes, told me not to be nervous; it’s not a big deal.”

OK, she can tell you not to be nervous. Were you?

“I was, inside, yes, I was freaking out,” Brenna Romanello said, “but I was like, I just have to calm down and, like, put it in myself.”

She put the ball in the net, and New Fairfield is headed back to the Class S final, looking to win it for the fifth straight time. Her goal gave the Rebels an 11-10 win over Weston after the Trojans fought back from a 9-3 second-half deficit to take the lead.

It wasn’t the only second-half rally on that field Tuesday: Old Saybrook nearly erased Lauralton Hall’s big first-half lead in the other semifinal, but Lauralton Hall, which was already playing in its first CIAC semifinal, held on to win 9-8 and reach its first final.

A couple of hours later, two New Fairfield freshmen scored the two biggest goals of the day.

“We just talked about making sure you were ready when opportunity knocked,” New Fairfield coach Greg Schwarz said.

“Julia Nitti, game-tying goal (with 2:47 left). Brenna Romanello, OK, iced it at the end. It wasn’t the way we drew it up, but we have a great team chemistry.”

With that, he talked about a bunch of Rebels who didn’t play or didn’t play much Tuesday, praising their practices.

“They are as physical and as challenging as these games are. All the girls on the side literally have a say in these games,” Schwarz said. “They challenge everybody. We have girls who could start on 80% of Class S teams, making everybody better.

“They’re ready, and they’re not afraid. They’re ready to go.”

Fourth-seeded New Fairfield (18-3), ranked sixth in the state coaches poll, will face 14th-seeded Lauralton Hall (12-8) in the final on Saturday at Sacred Heart University at 10 a.m.

Top-seeded Weston, ranked ninth, finishes 19-3. Two of those losses were in the playoffs to the Rebels, whom Weston beat in the regular season.

“This is a big senior class who’s fought really hard and hasn’t been able to benefit with a title. We hoped to do it for them,” Weston coach Kyra Fraioli said.

“Hats off to New Fairfield. They got it done in the end. Best of luck to them, but one hell of a fight, that’s for sure.”

The early game turned into one as well. Lauralton Hall led 6-1 at halftime, and then Lily Cody took over for Old Saybrook, scoring the next four goals.

But though the Rams cut the lead three times to one goal, they never quite caught up.

“Something our team knows is we kind of go into a lull in the second half, which is something we’ve been working on,” Lauralton Hall senior Morgan White said. “In the beginning of the season, we wouldn’t come back from it.

“It’s nice to see that switch.”

Old Saybrook finishes 19-2 with a Shoreline Conference championship.

“We had a great season,” coach Richard Shriver said.

“Surmounting individual play” was a hallmark of the group, he said. “They’re a great team together. They work well together, and that was really a differentiator this season, no question about it.”

The Crusaders, who lost 15-3 to New Fairfield in last year’s quarterfinal dropped below .500 late in the regular season and at one point had 10 of 26 players out injured, coach Meg Carney said. They’ll play on the last day of the postseason for the first time.

“The lacrosse program has been totally transformed thanks to Meg Carney,” senior Anna Garate said. “We really feel like contenders for the first time in a long time. The culture is totally transformed since our freshman year.”

PLAYER OF THE (FIRST) GAME

Lauralton Hall sophomore Charlotte Michener scored four goals, two of them after Old Saybrook cut the lead to one. She also had an assist.

PLAYER OF THE (SECOND) GAME

New Fairfield freshman Brenna Romanello’s second goal won the game with one second left.

QUOTABLE

“I think it was them believing in themselves. Now we see what they can do.” —Lauralton Hall coach Meg Carney

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp

LAURALTON HALL 9, OLD SAYBROOK 8

LAURALTON HALL6 3—9

OLD SAYBROOK1 7—8

Records: Lauralton Hall 12-8; Old Saybrook 19-2. Scoring: LH—Charlotte Michener 4 goals 1 assist, Hollis Huntington 2g 2a, Anna Garate 2g, Morgan White 1g 1a, Remi Sherlock 1a; OS—Lily Cody 5g, Chelsea Heinke 1g, Amelia Sigersmith 1g, Gretchen Kawecki 1g. Goalies: LH—Marina Pinto (8 saves); OS—Samantha Wakelee (11). Shots: LH—25; OS—22.

NEW FAIRFIELD 11, WESTON 10

NEW FAIRFIELD7 4—11

WESTON3 7—10

Records: New Fairfield 18-3; Weston 19-3. Scoring: NF—Ava Romanello 4 goals 2 assists, Brenna Romanello 2g, Evelyn Butovac 1g 1a, Julia Nitti 1g 1a, Colleen Rattigan 1g, Madelyn Breitbeil 1g, Heather Clark 1g; W—Hannah Cross 4g, Sarah Zwack 3g, Taylor Werner 2g, Kayla Schiffer 1g. Goalies: NF—Margaret Morgan (4 saves); W—Cristina Love (7). Shots: NF—23; W—18.

This file has been updated to correct Charlotte Michener’s school.