NEW CANAAN -- "Statement game" is a term that gets tossed around pretty freely in the sports world, but it was certainly an appropriate phrase to describe Tuesday's field hockey clash between New Canaan and Greenwich, a pair of one-loss teams in conference play.
In the end, it was the Cardinals making their voices heard, erasing a one-goal halftime deficit to force overtime and claim the victory when Sydney Cole found Meghan Collins for the game-winner with 3:03 remaining in 7-on-7 sudden death.
With fewer players on the field, both teams attempted to take advantage of the increased real estate, but it was Greenwich that got the break it was looking for by earning a penalty corner. Collins' stuff-in goal boosted her team's winning streak to six.
"We had a corner and Sydney Cole brought it around the outside and she just hit it in. She's one of our strongest players, and I was just kind of there, so I just tipped it in and there it was," Collins said. "Every game we get better and better and we hope when FCIACs and states come around that we'll be the strongest team out there."
Collins' heroics would not have been possible if not for teammate Hannah Koorbusch capitalizing on her team's strong start to the second half, scoring on a stuff-in goal with 24:44 remaining to pull even at 2-2.
That marker sent the game to overtime after neither team could finish its opportunities for the rest of regulation. It was the first overtime game of the season for both teams.
"That's a great team. They're very talented and well-coached, and that's just a huge win for us. Our girls have a lot of heart, they're very gritty and they're very focused," Greenwich coach Allyn Orrico said. "I definitely think 7-on-7 is a strength of ours because we have very fast forwards and very smart defenders and a phenomenal goalie (Freddie Bancroft)."
"It's always good to play 7-on-7. You do it in practice, but obviously it doesn't have the same intensity," New Canaan coach Erin Gildea said. "I think Greenwich has a little more experience with that, and it showed today. It's a tough pill to swallow, but better now than in the postseason, and you do at least get a point out of it."
New Canaan teammates Maureen Schott and Isabel Taben were on the same page for the Rams, as the two connected for both of their team's goals, scored just 2:07 apart to give the Rams a 2-1 advantage with 6:59 remaining in the first half.
On the first, Schott elevated a pass to her left and Taben tipped it out of the air and into the cage. On the second, Schott made a long crossing pass to her left from a difficult angle, but her pass was true as Taben one-timed it in for the 2-1 lead.
Greenwich's Paige Mautner opened the scoring with 21:02 remaining in the first half after a hard-charging Cole got her the ball.
"The overtime goal was beautiful, but I thought the two goals in regulation were nice goals by Greenwich, but started with just a basic mental breakdown with us and with a lack of communication, so that's what's frustrating about it," Gildea said. "I'm not big on postgame talks, but I just feel at this point that we have so much potential, and it's really up to them to do the work to try and reach it."
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GREENWICH 3, NEW CANAAN 2 (OT)
GREENWICH 1 1 1--3
NEW CANAAN 2 0 0--2
Records: Greenwich 10-1, 9-1 FCIAC; New Canaan 8-3-1, 8-2 FCIAC. Goals: G--Paige Mautner, Hannah Koorbusch, Megan Collins. NC--Isabel Taben 2. Assists: G--Sydney Cole 2, Collins. Goalies: NC--Emma Ball (8 saves); G--Freddie Bancroft (4). Shots: G--14; NC--8.