Despite late push, New Canaan girls soccer team can't find equalizer against Staples
NEW CANAAN -- The New Canaan girls soccer team knew what it was up against when Staples came to town Wednesday night.
Not only did the Wreckers enter play with just one loss in their first five games, they hadn't surrendered a goal in any of their victories. The trend continued in a 1-0 road win over the Rams, much to the delight of Staples coach Heather Driscoll and her team.
"I thought we created quite a few dangerous chances, especially off the corners. We looked to get forward early, and our backline held great shape and did a good job closing them down," Driscoll said. "They worked really hard together, they had great shape in the back, really good cover, and (goalie) Mary (Bennewitz) came off her line very well. We've had a great start to the year."
That isn't to say New Canaan didn't have scoring opportunities, particularly in the first half. Still scoreless 10 minutes in, New Canaan's Madison Starr forced a turnover deep in Staples territory, though her ensuing shot was denied by Bennewitz.
Minutes later, Staples scored the only goal, which was set up by a free kick from Elizabeth Mitas from the New Canaan 20. Mitas' ball sailed to the far side of the net where Lydia Shaw was waiting. Shaw scored on a header to give her team the advantage with 23:10 remaining in the half.
"It was a foul outside the box, and I was able to get the back of my head on it for a goal," Shaw said. "It's definitely a really great feeling because there are a lot of new players on the team, but we're really excited to just keep on moving in this direction."
New Canaan's Courtney Overacker, Starr and Shelby Overacker all made bids for the equalizer before halftime, but their shots either went wide or were stopped by Bennewitz.
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At the beginning of the second half, Staples nearly doubled its lead when Lauren Garcia's corner kick provided an opportunity for Shaw, whose close-range attempt was blocked by New Canaan's Samantha Ashley.
Bennewitz earned the shutout by making four saves, while New Canaan's Katie Donovan turned away five shots.
Staples also had a sizeable advantage in corner kicks, earning eight compared to none by New Canaan.
"The goalies kept us in the game. I can't complain. The girls fought themselves back into the game and gave it a valiant chance," New Canaan coach Kirk Bamford said. "We were very close, but that's how it happens sometimes. You just run out of time, but you've got to keep working hard."
Staples got another opportunity when Charlotte Rossi centered a pass to Shaw, but her shot rolled just wide of the right post.
New Canaan's best scoring opportunity of the second half occurred when Marina Braccio attempted to get to a loose ball, but Bennewitz got there just ahead of the New Canaan attacker to clear it harmlessly out of play with 3:25 remaining.
"We had our chances at times, but unfortunately their keeper pulled off a couple of good saves and a couple of our shots miscued, but that's soccer. It's a fine line sometimes between winning and losing," Bamford said. "It's a game that I think the longer it went on, the better we got. Credit to Staples for hanging in there and getting a good result."
The Rams looked to bounce back at home against Trinity Catholic on Thursday, but the result was not available at press time.
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STAPLES 1, NEW CANAAN 0
STAPLES .................................. 1 0--1
NEW CANAAN ........................... 0 0--0
Records: Staples 5-1, New Canaan 2-3. Goals: S--Lydia Shaw. Assists: S--Elizabeth Mitas. Goalies: S--Mary Bennewitz (4 saves); NC--Katie Donovan (5). Shots: S--11; NC--6.