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The Stonington field hockey team poses with their medals after beating Granby in the Class S finals of the state championships on Saturday morning in Wethersfield, CT.
(Grace White / Mystic River Press)
Stonington's Molly Crowley battles Haddam-Killingworth's Kolby Burger as goalie Meghan Cerino during the Bears quarterfinal victory. Crowley scored the only goal in today's Class S title match against Granby as Stonington won the state title.  | (Grace White/ The Westerly Sun) Senior Libby Morrison hugs her coach Jenna Tucchio as the team celebrates. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Senior Libby Morrison (33) leads the team as they celebrate their victory with the Stonington's Samantha Shroyer and Granby's Amanda Jacobs pursue the ball early  in the game. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Tia Lafrance-Boyce does battle for possession of the ball with Granby's Olivia Johnson. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Casey Williams moves the ball as she is pursued by Granby's Amanda Jacobs (0). The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) As seen through the opponent's net, Stonington's Libby Morrison runs after Granby's Kennedy Pavlik as she moves the ball. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Jenny Sieczkiewicz moves the ball as Granby's Alison Ricci defends. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Molly Crowley and Granby's Amanda Jacobs pursue the ball. Crowley scored the only goal of the game. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Casey Williams(11)  and Abigail Blanchard (19) celebrate as teammate Molly Crowley (far right) heads into the opponent's cage to collect the ball. Crowley scored the only goal of the game.  The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) The Stonington High School field hockey team celebrates as soon as the clock runs out. They beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Junior Molly Crowley smiles as she hugs her teammate during the celebration. Crowley scored the only goal of the game. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Junior Margot Calmar (10) jumps for joy as the team awaits the medal ceremony. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) (L-r) Emily Cassata, Lauren Hultgren, Meg O'Lari (front0 and Libby Morrison (back) hold up the winning plaque as goalie Annie Knizeski and Tia Lafrance-Boyce celebrate. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Goalie Annie Knizeski gives the Coach Jenna Tucchio (right) shares a moment with former Stonington coach Janice Ingham who was the last to coach a state championship team in 1987. Tucchio tied Ingham's record of 125 career wins with the victory on Saturday.Behind them are two other former coaches Paula Solar and Lauren McGugan.  The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Coach Jenna Tucchio gets doused in Gatorade by her team members. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's goalie Annie Knizeski (far right) celebrates with her teammates.The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington High field hockey coach Jenna Tucchio, above, gets doused after the Bears defeated Granby 1-0 to win the Class S state championship. Below, Tucchio keeps an eye on her team during a practice in 2004, her first season at the helm. | (The Westerly Sun) The Stonington field hockey team poses with their medals after beating Granby in the Class S finals of the state championships on Saturday morning in Wethersfield, CT.
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Samantha Shroyer and Granby's Amanda Jacobs pursue the ball early  in the game. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Casey Williams moves the ball as she is pursued by Granby's Amanda Jacobs (0). The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Tia LaFrance Boyce  battles for possession of the ball with Granby's Olivia Johnson during the Class S title game in November. LaFrance Boyce earned Class S All-State this season. | (Grace White / Mystic River Press) As seen through the opponent's net, Stonington's Libby Morrison runs after Granby's Kennedy Pavlik as she moves the ball. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Casey Williams (11)  and Abigail Blanchard (19) celebrate as teammate Molly Crowley heads into the cage to collect the ball after scoring the game's only goal. Crowley's goal was her 22nd of the season. Right, former Stonington coach Janis Ingham and current coach Jenna Tucchio share a moment after the game. Ingham coached the Bears to their last state title in 1987. Tucchio tied Ingham for the most coaching wins in school history at 125.
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Jenny Sieczkiewicz, above, moves the ball as Granby's Alison Ricci defends. Below, the Bears show off their championship medals. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Molly Crowley and Granby's Amanda Jacobs pursue the ball during the Class S title game in November. Crowley earned second team Class S All-State. | (Grace White / Mystic River Press) The Stonington High School field hockey team celebrates as soon as the clock runs out. They beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's goalie Annie Knizeski (far right) celebrates with her teammates.The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Senior Libby Morrison hugs her coach Jenna Tucchio as the team celebrates. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington High players, above, gather around senior Libby Morrison as they rejoice after winning the state title. Morrison leaves Stonington as the record holder for goals in a career (77) and a single season (28, 2011). She shares the record for goals in a game (5) with several others. Left,  goalie Annie Knizeski is all smiles as her teammates hold up the championship plaque. | (Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Junior Molly Crowley smiles as she hugs her teammate during the celebration. Crowley scored the only goal of the game. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Margot Calmar jumps for joy as the team awaits the medal ceremony. (Grace White / The Westerly Sun) (L-r) Emily Cassata, Lauren Hultgren, Meg O'Lari (front0 and Libby Morrison (back) hold up the winning plaque as goalie Annie Knizeski and Tia Lafrance-Boyce celebrate. The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT, on Saturday morning. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Goalie Annie Knizeski gives the Coach Jenna Tucchio (right) shares a moment with former Stonington coach Janice Ingham who was the last to coach a state championship team in 1987. Tucchio tied Ingham's record of 125 career wins with the victory on Saturday.Behind them are two other former coaches Paula Solar and Lauren McGugan.  The Stonington High School field hockey team beat Granby by a score of 1-0 to win the Class S final at the state championship in Wethersfield, CT. 
(Grace White / The Westerly Sun) Stonington's Molly Crowley pursues the ball during last season's Class S championship game against Granby. Crowley scored the only goal of the contest. | Grace White / The Westerly Sun Stonington’s Molly Crowley, right, pursues the ball during last season’s Class S championship game against Granby. Crowley scored the only goal of the contest. 
| Grace White / Mystic River Press

This one belongs to Stonington


WETHERSFIELD, Conn. — Throughout this Stonington High field hockey storybook season, it was the Bears’ destiny to win a state title — just the second in school history and first since 1987.

A squad of eight senior starters was poised to take one step further after losing in the 2012 title game. The Bears featured Elizabeth Morrison, the program’s career leader in goals and assists. The team found a coveted edge, elevating their skill level with the advantage of playing on a home turf field surface for the first time. They ousted long-time nemesis Haddam-Killingworth in the quarterfinals.

Every sign pointed to a Stonington coronation Saturday in the Class S final against Granby. But the storybook finish did not exactly follow the script.

Outplayed, outshot and out-totaled in penalty corners in the first half, No. 3 seed Stonington had its hands full against No. 9 Granby, the fourth-place team in the North Central Connecticut Conference, but also the state’s winningest program with 13 state titles.

Then nearly midway through the second half, an Irish blessing changed the Bears’ fortunes, paving the way to a 1-0 victory, ending the storybook season with an 18-2 record and the second state title in five finals appearances.

With top penalty-corner insert Samantha Shroyer resting on the sideline to catch her wind, Stonington teammate Molly Crowley, the regular left forward, took the left penalty corner insert pass with 19 minutes left. She skidded the ball to the top of the scoring circle to Margot Calmar, who fired it back to the left post to an unguarded Crowley, who calmly fired the ball from five feet past a sprawling Granby goalkeeper Alyssa Grimaldi for the game’s only goal with 18:54 left.

“Samantha does a great job with inserts, but I took the inserts all of last year, so I know where everything is supposed to go,” Crowley said. “One of the things I notice on penalty corners is that teams don’t always cover the inserter after the pass. Margot found me wide open.”

Calmar’s towering 6-foot presence keyed Stonington’s defense throughout and she was instrumental along with Lauren Hultgren, Emily Cassata and Tia LaFrance-Boyce in clearing numerous Granby charges toward Bears’ goalkeeper Annie Knizeski in the last five minutes.

“The last 10 minutes of the game was so intense,” Morrison said. “We had to keep them out of the circle and not give up any penalty corners. We did not want the game to be tied and go into overtime and 7-on-7. It was the most exciting stretch of my life.”

Granby (14-6) rode the stick-handling of Olivia Johnson and Krista Iwanicki to force three penalty corners in the last 2:35, including one with 37.4 seconds left. Calmar smacked away the last Granby gasp, hitting the ball toward midfield with 20 seconds to go.

Sometimes overshadowed by the offensive production of Morrison (24 goals) and Crowley (22 goals), Stonington’s defenders were the day’s stars. Knizeski (six saves) stepped up early, kicking away Granby’s Brigitte DeGagne shot from 12 yards out just a minute into the game. Calmar, who missed most of last season with an injury, was a constant defensive stopper.

“Margot played the game of her life,” Stonington coach Jenna Tucchio said, “and Annie came up big. Ideally, we like to come out quickly as we did (in a 4-0 semifinal win) against Thomaston, but when we were forced to make defensive stops early today, it asserted the fact that we’re here to play defense too. It gave us an air of confidence that we could hang with them.”

Stonington appeared caught off guard to Granby’s skill level. In addition to its stick-handling, Granby showed a pop-fly, soft pass maneuver in the air over defenders heads that is not often executed at the scholastic level. The opponent also alternates goalkeepers with Grimaldi playing the first half and Hanna Crose the second after the goal.

“Their stick-handling was crazy good,” Calmar said. “They came out stronger than I expected and I thought they’d be a little slower seeing that they didn’t score on the field in their semifinal (1-0 penalty stroke win over Northwest Catholic). I knew they were a turf team and they looked comfortable on it, but now so are we.”

Just prior to Crowley’s goal, Stonington’s Casey Williams made a long run up the right side and passed in the middle to Meg O’Lari for a shot that Crose kicked away. After the goal, Stonington forced two more penalty corners and Morrison triggered a 2-on-2, give-and-go opportunity with Crowley only to see Crose kick Morrison’s shot away with 14 minutes left.

“I thought we were two equal teams,” Knizeski said. “I never thought one goal was going to be it, but I had to keep focused minute by minute because it didn’t look like there was going to be a lot of scoring.”

Ultimately, Stonington could not ask for a better finish. They were challenged to the hilt by the state’s most successful field hockey program.

“There was such high intensity in the end,” Tucchio said. “You don’t get here without earning it, and today we definitely earned it.”



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