Lauralton Hall wins SCC field hockey title

The Lauralton Hall field hockey team put forth a stout first-half offensive performance and threw in a rock-solid defensive showing in the second half on Wednesday night, defeating Daniel Hand, 2-1, to capture the 2015 Southern Connecticut Conference title on the Joe Bruno Field at Hamden High.

It was the first time in six outings that the Crusaders, the No. 1 seed, defeated the Tigers. Prior to the final, Lauralton Hall was 0-4-1 in meetings against the Madison school. The two teams met in last year’s title game with Hand winning, 2-1, in overtime.

“We beat a really strong team,” said Kati Cavanaugh, the Crusaders’ third-year coach. “We’ve had trouble finishing on goals all year long. Tonight, we did an exceptional job.”

Cavanaugh also applauded her defense, led by defenders Ann Frances Fox , Alex Sciallo and Sue LaPointe along with goalie Mary-Beth Rudolfh.

“They pressured us for most of the second half,” Kavanaugh said. “They kept getting fast-break attempts and we kept holding them off.”

Hand, the No. 3 seed, scored at the 14:18 mark on a goal by Taylor Leckey.

The Crusaders, who improved their record to 16-3, then got goals from Grace Murray (8:48) and the eventual game-winner from Michaela O’Donnell, the tournament’s MVP. O’Donnell’s goal came at the 5:46 mark.

Hand will take a 14-4-1 record into state-tournament play.

Lauralton Hall outshot Hand, 8-4, with Rudolfh making three saves and Hand keeper Kyle Gargiulo turning aside four.

“You have to play a team as good as Lauralton Hall for 60 minutes,” Tiger coach Sue Leckey said. “We were good at times tonight and not so good at others. They were very aggressive and fought very hard.”