Weston High jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and held off a tenacious St Joseph squad for a 7-5 victory in the Class S state tournament girls lacrosse semifinals at Trumbull High on Tuesday night.

The fifth-seeded Trojans advance to face No. 10 New Fairfield, in an all-South-West Conference championship on Saturday at Jonathan Law in Milford.

Weston reached the SWC championship game and fell to Newtown in a close battle. Weston coach Kristin Keneally believes the her team drew confidence from that experience and that postseason pressure no longer gets to the Trojans,

“I just think the game-time jitters of the big game are starting to ease and we’re just playing our game from the start,” Keneally said.

No. 16 St Joseph once again proved seedings can be thrown out the window, reaching the state semis for the second year in a row. Last season, the Cadets did it as the 15 seed.

Taylor Moore, Madison Wilson and Nicole Werner all scored twice, and Grace Taner added a tally for Weston. Moore and Taner had assists.

Kate Condron had a two goals, and Abbey Ivanovich, Lilly Ivanovich and Jettke Gray all scored for the Cadets. Annie McNeil had an assist.

Both defenses were solid, as were both goaltenders.

Weston goalie Olivia Ferdinand and St Joe’s netminder Erin Owens both made eight saves, including some point-blank range denials.

St Joseph defender Halle Grabowski face-guarded Weston standout Moore and did a great job, said Cadet coach Leeland Gray, adding that it isn’t a matter of holding Moore scoreless but limiting her damage.

The Trojans had nice defensive contributions from Ingrid Crumpton, Jasmine Butcher, Werner and Mimi Fellowes.

Weston scored first almost seven minutes into the game on Wilson’s free position tally, the first of a trio of net-finders in a span of 1:24. The goals were aided by a pair of costly St Joe’s penalties.

The Cadets got on the board with 14:33 left in the opening half when McNeil set up Abbey Ivanovich. Condron circled around from behind the net to score and pull the Cadets to within a goal with 8:27 to go before halftime.

The teams traded goals and Weston went into the break ahead 5-3.

Owens made a pair of stops less than a minute into the second half.

Condron again worked her way around from behind the frame to score, this time cutting back the opposite way making it 5-4 with 20:15 remaining.

Ferdinand denied Condron on a fast-break opportunity, Jettke Gray clanked one off the post, and St Joe’s couldn’t get over the hump despite great pressure.

“It’s a game of inches sometimes,” said Leeland Gray, adding that the Cadets had multiple shots off the pipes.

Wilson tallied again, making it 6-4 with 13:00 remaining.

The never-quit Cadets answered just 1:02 later when Lily Ivanovich scored.

Then Ferdinand again came up big, denying Abbey Ivanovich with a chance to tie the score moments later.

“She’s amazing. She doesn’t get the glory that some of the girls get some of the time but she is a life-saver,” Keneally said.

Moore made it 7-5 with 8:53 left. Weston killed the clock during most of the final five or so minutes of game time.

“They fought throughout. They didn’t give up,” said Leeland Gray, adding most of his young lineup will return next spring.

The Cadets lost seven seniors a year ago, then suffered a setback when Amanda Lopez went down with a season-ending injury partway through this campaign.

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle to match last year’s record,” said Leeland Gray. “Our expectations were to try to go for a championship.”

Weston lost to New Fairfield by two goals early in the season and will look for redemption on the biggest stage of the campaign.

“We’re feeling good about the game. We’ve been a different team in the second half of the season,” said Keneally, adding that she’s pleased two SWC teams are represented in the pinnacle game.