Girls lax wins first state title
Published 2:35 pm, Monday, June 14, 2010
By David Fierro
"The first time we played Greenwich I joked to my team that in the second half they were possessed," Wood said. "Greenwich didn't have the ball much and we went on a 13-goal run. The second half of that game was unbelievable. I knew this group could do something special."
The Rams did just that Saturday, capturing something they have been chasing for years -- the CIAC Division I lacrosse championship.
The old sports adage says it's not easy to beat a team three times in one season, and though it certainly wasn't easy, New Canaan accomplished that feat Saturday.
Sophomore Sarah Mannelly registered four goals with one assist, and junior Elizabeth DeTour had a hat trick to ignite second-seeded New Canaan to a riveting 10-9 victory over fifth-seeded Greenwich in the title game of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Division I Lacrosse Tournament at rainy Bunnell High School.
The long awaited triumph gave the Rams (19-3) their first state lacrosse championship.
"This makes the whole four years here complete," said New Canaan senior standout attack Anjalie Christie, who scored a first half goal. "It's been the one thing that we have never been able to capture."
Added Wood: "It's especially exciting for our seniors, they deserve it. They worked so hard with the underclassmen and formed a complete team."
Greenwich, which upended longtime nemesis Darien in the semifinals, finished its season at 16-4 with three of its losses coming against the Rams. The Cardinals also fell to New Canaan in the FCIAC semifinals, 14-11.
"I couldn't be prouder of our team," Cardinals senior tri-captain and midfielder Sarah Kramer said. "No one gave up, even when we were down. The weather was tough and everyone was tired, but we played through it."
Sophomore attack Claire Feeney tallied a game-high five goals, while junior Emily D'Erasmo scored twice for Greenwich, which trailed 8-5 at halftime, but closed to within a goal twice in the second half.
"We are a feisty group of girls," GHS coach Caitlin Keane said. "No way were we going to stay down and roll over. We fought hard until the end."
After Feeney tied the score at 5-5 with her third goal of the game at the 8:58 mark of the first half, New Canaan took the lead for good 3:07 later. The elusive Mannelly dodged a defender and sent a shot from close in past Cardinals goalie Kaitlin Bedford, making it a 6-5 game. Mannelly tallied with 2:49 remaining in the opening half, then set freshman Olivia Hompe up for a goal, giving the Rams an 8-5 edge with 1:16 to go.
"Sarah played very well, she came alive," said Wood, whose Rams beat Greenwich 16-5 back in April. "I am excited to see what she can do the next two years."
Catching the ball in traffic and spinning away from a defender, Feeney brought the Cards to within 8-6 with her fourth goal of the afternoon 1:46 into the second half. DeTour converted a free position attempt, putting the Rams back in front by three with 21:15 remaining. But New Canaan went the next 17 minutes without scoring, as Greenwich tightened its defensive play and received a stellar effort from Bedford in goal. The senior tri-captain made 10 saves, six of which came during the second half for the Cardinals, who outscored the Rams 4-2 after intermission.
Said Bedford: "The second half we came out a with a lot of heart and really wanted it. This team is a comeback team. No matter how many goals we are losing by we always come back."
D'Erasmo cut the Rams' advantage to 9-7, scoring off a strong run to the goal with 13:35 left to play. Sophomore Tori Dunster made it a one-goal game again, as she sprinted from behind the net and snuck a shot past New Canaan goalie Charlotte Spitzfaden with 10:07 to go.
Melting time off the clock by moving the ball around the perimeter, the Rams received another clutch goal from Mannelly at the 4:17 mark.
"We wanted to lengthen our plays and move the ball around a lot, but we also wanted to maintain our lead," Mannelly explained. "We still tried to be aggressive and take the shot when we had it."
Senior Storm Kodde fed Feeney for a goal with 3:40 remaining, slicing New Canaan's edge to 10-9. The ensuing draw went to the Rams and they effectively stalled to take precious seconds off the clock the final minutes.
"We wanted to hold the ball as much as possible and make sure they didn't get the ball," Christie said.
The lead changed hands several times in the first half. Hompe ran almost the entire length of the field before depositing a shot in the upper right corner for the game's first goal 48 seconds into the opening half.
Feeney scored on a free position shot and Kramer found the back of the net off a nice setup by sophomore midfielder Shannon Colligan, putting GHS in front 2-1 with 18:16 to go. Goals from Mannelly and DeTour (off a pass in transition from Kacie Pippitt) gave the Rams a 3-2 lead midway through the first half.
Despite the disappointing loss, Greenwich left the game with no regrets.
"The team played unbelievable, we couldn't ask for anything more," Feeney said.
"We wanted to come out on fire for our seniors and we did."
Added Colligan: "The whole team was so pumped up to be here and we all worked 100 percent the entire game."
Spitzfaden, who made seven saves, believes the Rams raised their level of play after falling to Wilton in the FCIAC finals.
"After the Wilton loss we really came together as a team," Spitzfaden noted. "The past few games we came out real hard because we remembered what happened in the Wilton game. Winning this game ends the season perfectly for us."