MILFORD -- Mike DiCosmo may be one of the smallest players on the New Canaan defense, but the senior defensive back has a knack for getting his hands on the ball at the most crucial moments.
DiCosmo was there again Saturday, picking off a pass late in the fourth quarter, putting the cherry atop another dominating effort by the Rams defense.
No. 3 New Canaan used that defensive effort to post a 17-0 win over No. 7 North Haven in the Class L semifinals at Jonathan Law High School. It was the second shutout of the state playoffs for the Rams.
New Canaan (13-1) will face top-seeded and archrival Darien in Saturday's 2 p.m. state championship at Central Connecticut State's Arute Field in New Britain.
DiCosmo said the Rams switched up the defensive a little to adjust to North Haven's single-wing offense.
"We switched around positions a little bit. I was playing a little more safety," DiCosmo said. "We had missiles coming off the edge to keep them from going outside because we knew they were going to run a lot. We were playing run all day and (defensive backs) have to make sure they don't break it out and we get good pursuit angles and when they throw a pass, you have to get it."
After the Rams took a 17-0 lead with 7:43 left North Haven had no choice but to go to the air.
DiCosmo got inside position on a deep ball, intercepting the pass and running into his sideline with the ball to celebrate.
It was DiCosmo's sixth interception of the year, including picks in both state playoff games and one in the FCIAC championship game.
"Everyone picks on (DiCosmo) because he's little," Marinelli said. "He's got to have at least half a dozen, if not more, interceptions and none bigger than that one. He has come up with some big interceptions for us."
The Rams knew North Haven's offense was something they had not seen and game planning in a short week was no easy task.
"It's so hard to get ready and Billy Kurtz and Chris Silvestri and the defensive staff spent hours and hours and hours," Marinelli said. "We were calling everybody we knew that has ever seen a Wing-T to guys that have run it to try and figure out the best game plan. For us to put in that game plan and for our kids to implement it the way they did. I can't say enough about the coaches and the kids."
That score held until the fourth quarter with Morgan Carson running in a score from 4 yards out.
Cascione finished with 205 yards passing and a touchdown while Frank Cognetta ran for 142 yards.
North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said New Canaan was able to win the battle on the line of scrimmage, disrupting the Indians offense.
"They were very physical at the point of attack," Sagnella said. "We struggle throwing the football and we need to be very precise to get them to back off and we weren't able to do that at all tonight. They were physical enough to get us off our rhythm, particularly in the red zone. 2nd and 10 is lethal to us and 3rd and 10 is deadly to us and they were very good at getting us off schedule."
New Canaan 17, North Haven 0
NEW CANAAN7 3 0 7--17
NORTH HAVEN0 0 0 0--0
Records: NC 13-1; NH 10-3
NC--Alex LaPolice 15 pass Nick Cascione (Peter Swindell kick)
NC--Swindell 30 field goal
NC--Morgan Carson 4 run (Swindell kick)