Entering Thursday's showdown, the Rams had defeated the Cardinals four consecutive times over the past two seasons, including a pair of postseason victories. So the Cardinals went into the much-anticipated matchup with a bit of payback on their mind.
Finneran helped Greenwich have the final say this time around, registering four goals and two assists at Cardinal Stadium. Junior attack Decker Curran recorded a hat trick with two assists and senior midfielder Kyle Foote tallied twice for Greenwich (9-1). The game was a rematch of last year's FCIAC final, won by New Canaan, 8-5.
"It's a huge win anytime we beat a great team like New Canaan," Finneran said. "I had never beaten them before in any sport that I played -- lacrosse or hockey -- so it's a great day right now."
Michael Kraus, a junior attack, had a hat trick with two assists, while senior attack Harry Stanton and senior midfielder Cole Turpin scored two goals apiece for New Canaan (7-2). The Rams, who fell behind 6-2 at halftime, were plagued by turnovers throughout, some of which were unforced.
"I thought it was an extremely sloppy game on our part," Rams coach Chip Buzzeo said. "We maybe played a good five minutes in the fourth quarter. The unforced turnovers really hurt us. Lacrosse is about possessions and we had possessions, but we gave them away."
Cardinals coach Scott Bulkley was impressed how his squad battled through the game against the two-time defending FCIAC champions. Bulkley noted that numerous players went into the matchup feeling under the weather.
"A lot of our guys are just getting over the flu," Bulkley said. "The whole defense had the flu, but for them to do such a good job against a great New Canaan offense is a testament of how tough they are."
Trailing 2-1 after a pair first-quarter goals by Kraus, the Cardinals scored five unanswered goals to go into halftime up 6-2. Sophomore Bobby Goggin tied the score at 2-2 for GHS, converting a low shot off Finneran feed. Attack John Tooher put a high shot past Rams goalie Trent Nader off a Finneran pass and attackman Scooter Harrington tallied, putting the home team ahead, 6-4, at the 7:26 mark of the second quarter. Curran scored off a dodge and midfielder Will Perry converted a perimeter shot, capping the Cards' second-quarter surge.
"I had a shorty on me in the beginning and I was able to dish it off a lot and we were able to get a lot of goals in the crease," Finneran said.
"For us, the most important thing is playing together as a team," Harrington said. "New Canaan is a great team offensively, but Nail, Tiedy and Nick did a great job of shutting people down. We really learned from our loss to Fairfield Prep (12-11). We know we have to play as one unit -- no one is above anyone."
New Canaan, which had won five of its last six meetings against GHS, had two time-consuming possessions in the first quarter, but couldn't capitalize.
"We had our chances at the beginning of the game to get a lead, but we turned the ball over," Buzzeo said. "If you give the ball away to a good team like that, you're not going to win. Greenwich had a great game plan today and we had to adjust to a lot of things."
The Rams cut the Cards' lead to 6-4 on goals from Turpin and Justin Meichner, but GHS responded with tallys by Curran and Finneran to regain its four-goal edge. After Stanton's man-up tally, Finneran found the cage with a shot from 20 yards out and Foote scored while falling to the turf, making it 10-5. Three consecutive goals brought the Rams to within 10-8, but the Cardinals held on behind the impressive work of senior Tommy Rogan in goal.
Rogan made 14 saves, four of which came during the fourth quarter, while middie Mike Sullivan won nine faceoffs.
"We came out very aggressive and with a lot of passion," Rogan said. "Toward the end, we got a little tired, but then we picked it up. We're happy with how we're playing right now."
Said Bulkley: "We have a guy in cage who is stopping the ball and just doesn't want to lose."
Nader made seven saves for the Rams, who play rival Darien Saturday.
"Greenwich can definitely shoot the ball," Buzzeo said. "They have some of the best shooters I've seen in two years. They took it to us."
GREENWICH 11, NEW CANAAN 8
NEW CANAAN 2 0 2 4 -- 8
GREENWICH 2 4 2 3 -- 11
Records: Greenwich 9-1; New Canaan 7-2.
Scoring: NC -- Michael Kraus (3 g, 2 a); Harry Stanton (2 g); Cole Turpin (2 g); Justin Meichner (1 g); Max Begoon (1 a); G -- Luke Finneran (2 g, 4 a); Bobby Goggin (1 g); Kyle Foote (2 g); Decker Curran (3 g, 2 a); John Tooher (1 g); Will Perry (1 g); Scooter Harrington (1 g). Goalies: NC -- Trent Nader (7 saves); G -- Tommy Rogan (14 saves).