Lyman Memorial excited for Class S final

Nov. 19—WATERBURY — The intensity was off a little bit.

And for the opening 40 minutes, the Lyman Memorial girls soccer team spent a majority of time chasing. Backing up and letting Portland be the aggressor in Wednesday night's CIAC Class S state tournament semifinal game.

That aggression led to the only goal of the first half — off a throw-in — by the Highlanders — 6:58 into the first half.

And in these types of games, on big stages, that one early goal can cause a whole lot of trouble.

Lyman Memorial coach Mark Morello had a strong message for this group at the half.

"We all knew we didn't play well in the first half and I had to question their desire to be out on the field," Morello said. "I just tried to stay positive. We had come back so many times this year."

Said freshman Emily McKelvey — "That really brought us up. We all needed to bring that intensity at the beginning of the game. We got it at the half and it was good enough in order for us to get the win."

Yes ... the win. McKelvey equalized things with just under seven minutes remaining and two goals in the first 10 minutes of the first overtime sealed things for the top-seeded Bulldogs (19-1-1) with a 3-1 victory.

And just not any victory. One that has put Lyman Memorial into the state finals for the first time.

The Bulldogs will have that opportunity on Sunday at Trinity Health Stadium in Hartford when they face No. 2 seed East Catholic (17-1-1) for the Class S state championship at 1:30 p.m.

Morello — in his 34th season — has reached the finals for the first time as well.

That means so much more to his players.

" It feels great," senior Magda Carpenter said. "For ourselves it feels good because we're working to get there too, but it means even more when we're doing it for somebody else. And to have this opportunity for Coach ... it's just great to see."

It's not the first time that the team has visited Trinity Health Stadium.

Back on Sept. 17 — as a team bonding experience — Morello, his coaching staff and players went out together for dinner followed by attending a Hartford Athletic men's soccer game against the Las Vegas Lights.

"That was a big motiva-