Field hockey gets first-round win over Ludlowe
Avenge early-season loss to Falcons
NORWALK -- New Canaan High School's field hockey team avenged a regular-season loss to Fairfield Ludlowe in Saturday's FCIAC tournament quarterfinals at Brien McMahon High.
The Rams knocked off the Falcons 2-0 to earn a berth in Tuesday's semifinals.
New Canaan took a 1-0 lead with 15:44 to play in the first half when Austin Ready scored a goal assisted by Alexandra Jonker and Caroline Falcone. Both defenses fended off scoring chances the rest of the way in the first half.
Ludlowe put plenty of pressure on New Canaan goaltender Amanda Milunovich, who came up with a handful of saves, before the Rams finally got an insurance goal. Jonker made it 2-0 on a tally set up by Ready with just 9:47 to play in the game.
"It was really nerve-wracking," New Canaan head coach Erin Gildea said of the time her team spent protecting that slim lead. "I'm really happy with the result. There are no easy games in the playoffs."
New Canaan captain Anjelique Kyriakos said her team's intensity was fueled by the Sept. 16 loss to Ludlowe; New Canaan had beaten Ludlowe in a preseason scrimmage, and these teams have been exacting revenge on each other since. It's not often two schools so geographically far apart and void of a lot of tradition in their programs develop a rivalry like this.
"In our first game, they came hungry for revenge and the tables turned for this game," Kyriakos said.
Gildea felt the Ludlowe loss was something that hung over the team's head all season long.
"I know that loss has been haunting them," Gildea said. "It got them off to a rough start. We were playing catchup all year."
The Rams began the year with a tie and two losses before climbing to and, eventually, above .500 en route to an 8-4-1 campaign. Ludlowe finished 6-2-3-2. The teams were tied with 17 points but Ludlowe won the tiebreaker.
"We knew this was a winnable game for us. We had the confidence and we took it and played to win," Kyriakos said.
After getting past Ludlowe, the Rams faced, as expected, unbeaten Darien in the semifinals Tuesday night at after Darien needed a win over No. 8 Staples Saturday morning to ensure the matchup.
Prior to the loss, the Rams remained as confident as they could be against a team that hasn't dropped a game in more than three years.
"Darien has to lose at some point," said Kyriakos, adding that there is no reason why the Rams can't be the team to finally knock off the Blue Wave. "I think we stand a shot."
The head coach pounded home the same message as when New Canaan fell to the Blue Wave less than two weeks ago.
"It's just a matter of them believing in themselves. I know they can do it," Gildea said.
Now the Rams prepare for states, and it's possible a rematch with Darien could come there, too. A long run since New Canaan won its first game of the campaign at McMahon's field, over McMahon, back in September.
"We just want to make sure this is not where we have our last win of the season, too," Kyriakos said.