New Canaan Soccer State Champion O'Brien eyes similar success in hoops
Published 6:35 pm, Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Scott O'Brien is right in the middle of his final year as a high school student and his final playing days as a New Canaan Ram. The three-sport senior and first time basketball captain has led the Rams to a 3-5 start to the 2010-11 season.
Even after a 58-39 road loss against Stamford on Tuesday night, O'Brien was already looking to take the positives out of this particular game before moving onto the next one.
"We had a lot of trouble shooting in the first half. We got ourselves into a hole and it's hard to get out of it," O'Brien said. "But we're proud of the way we played in the second half, and we actually won it, in terms of points. We absolutely need to win the next game. We've just got to play our game and execute."
O'Brien's senior season couldn't have gotten off to a much better start, as he and the New Canaan soccer team made an improbable run through the CIAC tournament to become state champions.
"He was crucial during that run. He was very vocal for us," New Canaan soccer coach Victor Sanchez said. "When we were practicing and training hard he was very focused and showed a lot of leadership. Really it was Scott's leadership, both vocally and also by his actions on the field, and everybody followed his lead. He played an important role in establishing the mental focus of the team."
The Rams wrapped up the regular season with a record of 7-4-5, earning them the No. 19 seed in the 29-team state tournament. New Canaan caught fire at exactly the right time by defeating Branford, Avon (in penalty kicks), Fermi, and Watertown (in penalty kicks) to make it to the state finals against No. 1 Bunnell. New Canaan finished off its journey through the CIAC tournament with a 2-0 victory, and O'Brien had just captained his team to a state championship.
"We won the state championship, so it was obviously a great season to end on," O'Brien said. "That was probably my biggest accomplishment as an athlete at New Canaan."
After the success of his soccer team in post-season play, O'Brien is well-aware that making it to the tournament is always the first step and that anything can happen after qualifying. In his junior year as a basketball player, O'Brien and the Rams finished 7-13, a single win shy of making it to the state tournament. It was the first time New Canaan had missed the tournament since the 2005-06 season, and O'Brien sounded intent on not letting it happen again.
"We are trying to squeeze into the FCIAC's, make states, and make a run at states, hopefully. [Not making it last year] was tough for us. It came down to the last game against Bassick, which we lost by only a couple points," O'Brien said. "Not making the playoffs is a tough pill to swallow so this year we don't want to be in that position. We want to win enough games ahead of time so that we don't have to wait until the last game to get in."
In the spring, O'Brien will suit up for his final season at New Canaan High as an attacker on the lacrosse team. The Rams enjoyed success to the tune of a 17-6 regular season. New Canaan went on to make it to the semifinals of state championship tournament before being edged by Darien, 5-4.
"We had a great run and a really talented team. There were a lot of good seniors and it was a really fun team to play on," O'Brien said.
O'Brien hasn't yet picked out a college, but he did indicate that he's looking at some D-III schools in the hopes of playing one of his sports for a university. Wherever he goes, O'Brien doubts that his playing days will be behind him upon graduating from New Canaan.
"It depends on where I go to school if I'm going to play basketball or lacrosse or not," O'Brien said. "It's hard to let the sports go, but I'm going to try to play in college in some way, shape, or form, whether it's varsity level or club level."