Stonington - A matchup between the two Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament boys' lacrosse finalists from a year ago began with a 2-0 Stonington lead, directly attributable to patience, patience and more patience.
The Bears, missing four midfielders for personal reasons according to coach Paul Deon, didn't want to try to stop defending ECC champ East Lyme in transition.
In addition, East Lyme was playing a zone defense, necessitating Stonington's set offense.
"They definitely came out with more poise than we did," East Lyme's Chad Berry said. "One of our captains, Casey Johnson, was saying, we were a bit sluggish in practice yesterday. He said it after the game. It showed."
In the end, however, it was East Lyme's transition which won out Thursday night at Donald Palmer Field.
The Vikings, the defending ECC Large Division champions, defeated defending ECC Small Division champ Stonington 10-2.
It was Berry, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound fullback/linebacker headed to Brown University to play football, that kick-started things for East Lyme.
Berry scored twice in an 18-second span to tie the game 2-2 and Evan Long added a goal with 6 minutes, 56 seconds before halftime to give the Vikings a 3-2 lead at the half.
Goals by Collin Williams and Zach Poirier had given Stonington a 2-0 lead after the first quarter.
East Lyme then hit the third quarter at a full-out sprint, with junior lefty Nick Geary capitalizing for two goals and an assist in the period as the Vikings scored four more goals to lead 7-2. Mitchell Andres and Conner Eller also added goals.
Andres added a goal in the fourth quarter and Berry had two more to finish with four.
Goalie Greg Swenson finished with eight saves.
Deon, in his third season at Stonington after four seasons as an assistant coach under coach Gary Wight at East Lyme, has led the Bears to the Class S semifinals in each of his two seasons. East Lyme beat Stonington 11-6 for the ECC tournament championship a year ago.
Stonington (3-1) got 14 deft saves from goalie Mike Brandon.
"We know Stonington," Wight said. "Coach Deon always has these guys running hard, scrapping for loose balls. It was a good kind of wakeup call for us. ... (Berry) finally got us going offensively. We played our game. But we had to pick up the tempo."
Wight said the Vikings (4-1), despite returning only two starters from last year's team, have four or five "great" attacks, and a solid midfield. He said Berry does a lot of lifting and other football work during the offseason, but also a great deal of lacrosse skill.
"We've got some depth," Wight said.
So far, since losing its opener to Guilford, 6-5 in overtime, the Vikings have outscored their opponents 50-7 in rolling off four straight victories.
"I'd rather have a close game like this one," Berry said. "We just need to come out with a little more fire."