Meredith Moore headed in a corner kick from Sam Lee just two minutes, 38 seconds into the first sudden death overtime as top-seeded East Lyme rallied for a 2-1 victory over No. 5 Lyman Memorial on Monday night in the semifinals of the Eastern Connecticut Conference girls' soccer tournament at Montville High School.
The unbeaten Vikings (15-0-2) will play rival Waterford in the title game tonight at 6:30, also at Montville. The third-seeded Lancers (13-3-2) cruised past No. 2 St. Bernard at home, 8-1, in the other semifinal.
East Lyme and Waterford played to a scoreless tie on Sept. 24, but the Vikings beat the Lancers 2-1 on Oct. 16, scoring two late goals to wipe out a 1-0 deficit en route to winning the Large Division.
Ironically, East Lyme had to come back from a 1-0 deficit against Lyman. After Nicole Munce gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the first half, Lee earned her first assist of the night when Kristin Walter went high into the air to head in a Lee's corner kick 14 minutes into the second half to tie the game.
"Lyman's such a great team ... they play hard and play fair," East Lyme coach Rachel Redding said. "But my girls don't like to lose. Even when we were down at halftime, the girls sat in circle and said 'we're gonna do this' as they have so many times."
And now they'll get to try to keep their unbeaten streak alive tonight against their biggest rival.
"I don't feel like they're feeling any pressure," Redding said. "They're enjoying the ride and loving every second of it. They're looking forward to this.
"We had whole week off because of storm, so they were just excited to get back together. Teams like this come once in a million years. I'm lucky to have such a great group of girls. I enjoy coaching every single day with them."
Brule feels the same way about his team, which has now reached the final all three year's of the ECC tournament's existence (the Lancers are 1-1).
"I was kind of nervous, with six days off not seeing the kids, to see how they would respond to playing," Brule said. "But we were ready tonight. We played about as well as have all year. The score doesn't really indicate how good of a team St. Bernard is, but this was just our night."
Melina Spanos had two goals and an assist to lead the Lancers, who built a 5-0 halftime lead, while Genaya Loftis, Emily Skinner, Claire Hurley, Christine Bueno and Hannah Scahill also scored for the Lancers.
Ali Patterson scored for the Saints (10-3-4), who were outshot 26-8.
Brule, like Redding, can't wait to play his arch rival one more time.
"For the first time all year we're the underdog," he said. "We can play the spoiler role. We can ruin an undefeated season. It's great to be in this position, but it's also an honor to be playing for a conference championship again.
"All of these kids know each other. They want to beat us more than anybody else and we want to beat them, too, but at the of the day the soccer, friendships and relationships are a bigger than a win or a loss."