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Week of Oct. 23: Regular season ends; Centaurs advance to ECC Semifinals

Woodstock Academy coach Dennis Snelling sat on the bench on Thursday, basking in the sunshine.

It just added to the odd feeling.

On a day that felt more like early September than late October, the Centaurs were getting ready to play their final regular season match against East Lyme.

“We talk about it every year that this day comes up quick and it doesn’t feel like it right now, but it’s over in eight-to-10 weeks. The day has come when that happens,” Snelling said.

Prior to the match with the Vikings, the Centaurs honored their five seniors; Kayla Leite, Kendall McCormack, Emma Massey, Taylor Lamothe and Rebecca Nazer.

“They have all come a long way,” Snelling said. “Their freshman year was the first year of Covid so they all started with masks on and developed into athletic, high-level players. Like every other class, it’s always bittersweet to see kids leave and rotate out of the program and I hope we have done enough for them.”

Leite was a special case.

She suffered a season-ending injury recently and was not going to be able to play.

East Lyme, however, agreed that the senior could take the opening kickoff and send it back to a teammate who kicked it out of bounds to avoid any contact.

In a passing of the torch moment, younger sister Payton came on to replace her.

“I think that was a nice moment for everyone,” Snelling said.

The Woodstock Academy coach was hoping that all the pregame festivities would add some adrenaline to his team’s effort.

It was East Lyme that came out of the box ready to play, however.

The Vikings scored twice in the first 10 minutes.

Lilah Hart rifled home a shot from just outside the box just 8 minutes, 2 seconds into the contest.

The Vikings challenged Nazer again just 1:43 later when a bouncing ball inside the goalie box was tipped in by Samantha Rodes.

The Vikings just about salted the game away when Julianne Guarraia fired in another long-distance shot that just went up and over Nazer’s head into the opposite corner of the net with 17:09 left in the half.

“At least, it stayed at three,” Snelling said. “We may have come out a little slow because of the (pregame) events but we played better in the second half. That third goal, Rebecca was like Superman and went up as high as she could to get there but it was just out of her reach.”

The Centaurs did counter halfway through the second half when Macy Rawson took a free kick from midfield and sent it deep on to the foot of Rita Rawcliffe.

The freshman sent a bullet of her own at East Lyme goalie Morgan Dube and it found the back of the net for her third goal of the season.

But it wasn’t enough as the Centaurs finished the regular season with a 7-7-2 overall record and a 1-3-2 mark in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

“Looking at our schedule, I thought if we finished .500 it would be a good goal rather than shooting for the moon, like an undefeated season or something like that. You aren’t going to lose a big senior class and come right back out and go 12-4. I thought the way the games went, the quality of those games, indicated that we worked pretty hard,” Snelling said.

The Centaurs also worked hard on Saturday as they traveled to Lebanon to play in an ECC tournament quarterfinal match.

Woodstock Academy, the fifth seed,  prevailed over No. 4 Bacon Academy, 1-0, as freshman Elise Coyle scored the only goal of the contest off a feed from McCormack.

Nazer made eight saves in goal for the Centaurs.

Woodstock Academy travels to Waterford for an ECC semifinal match against the Lancers at 6 p.m. Monday.