Rich Bulan's strategy was simple, predicated on his New Canaan girls hockey team taking a lead during last Saturday's state championship game with Hall-Conard.
Then Bulan would take Olivia Hompe, his record-breaking forward, and put her back on defense to preserve the advantage.
And sure enough, the Rams' 2-0 victory came after Hompe played all but 30 seconds. Fittingly, when Bulan took her off for a brief rest by telling Hompe he wanted to give her a break, she responded, "I don't need a break."
In a sense, it was a final defining moment filled with irony for the state's all-time leading scorer: doing anything it took to win, including playing out of position, and staying out on the ice almost the entire time during the last official game of her career at this level or the next.
That's right: Hompe, who with 236 goals and 148 assists averaged nearly four points a game, and is widely considered either the best or second-best player in Connecticut girls hockey history, will be playing lacrosse at Princeton next year.
"It's kind of weird," Hompe said. "I didn't really think about it before the game. At the end of the game it was interesting. There were all different emotions."
Bulan said according to the research he has done, Hompe ranks second nationally in scoring behind Natalie Darwitz, a national team member from Minnesota who finished with 316 goals, 152 assists and 468 points for Eagan High School, from where she graduated in 2000.
Hompe, Madzie Carroll and Corbett Ripley, the four-year starters for the Rams, ended their careers with a 94-5 mark, with three league and three state titles. Hompe was selected the most valuable player in all six championship wins.
"The fact that we can count all the losses we had on one hand shocks me," Hompe said. "You look at all the great people I played with. I've had so many good linemates. When you consider that it hasn't been hard."
Bulan said the decision to make Hompe's final appearance for the Rams nearly a full-time effort was not difficult.
"I've had other people say it to me before: why do you have the best player in New England and only play her 50 to 60 percent of the game," Bulan said. "We figured once we got ahead, we'd put her back with Madzie and Emma Patch and it would be a wall."
There is a state full of coaches glad they won't have to face Hompe anymore. New Canaan beat Simsbury three times this season, the first a regular season game where Hompe went end to end to score the winning goal in the final minute.
Bulan said after the Rams' state tournament win, Simsbury coach Chris Arnold looked at Hompe and said, "Get in the car, I'll drive you to Princeton myself."
Bulan quipped about his own situation, "I can't wait until the first scheduling meeting next year and everyone wants to play me the extra game."
Because they played for the same team and were equally dominant, there seems to be an invisible umbilical cord linking Hompe to Maggie Westfal, who graduated from New Canaan in 2005 and was the state's first true superstar in the sport.
But the proper perspective is not debating which was the better high school player, but comparing the roles they played in a much bigger picture.
Bulan summed it up best: "They are different situations. I think the FCIAC is what it is today because of Maggie, and I think the way people now look at hockey is because of Olivia."
Put in other terms, think of Westfal as the builder who laid the foundation and Hompe as the architect who helped develop it.
"I think half of the school think I am on the Olympic team with all the press we get," Hompe said. "At high school especially the sport is still growing and this has been a really huge part of my life."
Hompe still has a lacrosse season at New Canaan before officially closing the door on her scholastic career.
Still, Hompe did not put down her hockey stick without offering a parting warning at the team's banquet last Monday.
"She told everyone that thought she wouldn't be playing anymore that they better be ready next year for the alumni game," Bulan said.
2009-10: 32 goals, 22 assists--54 points. ... MVP of the FCIAC and state championship games.
2010-11: 65 goals, 47 Assists--112 points. ... Becomes first girl in Connecticut history to record 100 points in a season. ... MVP of the FCIAC and state championship games.
2011-12: 78 goals, 35 assists--113 points. ... FCIAC championship game MVP.
2012-13: 61 goals, 44 assists--105 points. ... State championship game MVP.
Career Highlights: 236 goals, 148 assists--384 points. ... Winner of 3 State Championships and 3 FCIAC titles. ... Record of 94-5-0 in four years as a starter.