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Connaughton’s late heroics clinch state title

Kate Deehan (9) and Lily Hancock (16) celebrate following a second quarter goal. Photo by Mike Flanagan.

By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor

Thursday night's 6-5 Division state championship game victory over Franklin by the Westwood High School girls lacrosse team was something out of a movie.

Ahead 4-0 early thanks to goals by Ava Connaughton, Ashley Mackin, Kate Deehan and Lindsey Diomede, the Wolverines (24-0) saw their lead slip away as the Panthers (18-1-1) came back to tie the game at five late as heavy rain began to come down.

With under a minute to play and the game still tied, senior captain Anya Holland made the biggest save of her life, robbing Franklin's Kate O'Rourke off-stick high to give Westwood back possession and the chance to reclaim the lead. Following a chaotic sequence down at the other end, Connaughton came up with a steal behind the Franklin net. She sprinted to the crease, dove and shoveled home the would-be game-winning and title-clinching goal with 12 seconds to play.

Westwood won the ensuing face-off and ran the remaining 12 seconds off the clock en route to the program's first state title since 2016.

"I think it was adrenaline," said Westwood head coach Margot Spatola on the winning play by Connaughton. "She was determined to get the ball back and do whatever it took to score that. She's one of the most selfless athletes I've ever had the pleasure of coaching. Her sisters played for us and she's been around the field and our program for a long time. We've seen her grow and I'm so happy for her and her teammates."

For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.

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