Unbeaten New Canaan girls lax team eliminates Danbury in FCIAC quarters
NEW CANAAN -- Not for one minute in its FCIAC quarterfinal matchup against Danbury did the undefeated New Canaan girls lacrosse team allow the added pressure of a win-or-go-home game to distract it from the task at hand -- even after a highly-competitive first half.
The Rams, who trailed only once in their 20-10 victory, advanced to Monday's semifinal round at New Canaan High School at 7 p.m. against No. 4 Darien, which defeated No. 5 Staples 20-9.
It was a tale of two halves if ever there was one, as New Canaan scored 10 of the game's 11 second half goals to take total control of the game.
"I think they came out really hard. It was an earlier start time (2 p.m.) than we were used to, and I think we were all a little out of it. We really got a talking to between halves and I think we really just realized we needed to focus, get control of the draws and finish our shots," said Olivia Hompe, who scored a game-high seven goals and notched three assists. "Once we did that, we got into a really nice rhythm."
In the first half, Danbury pulled even with New Canaan at 2-2, 6-6 and 8-8 before taking its first and only lead of the contest when Raven Winters scored the last of her five goals to give the Hatters a 9-8 lead with 1:05 remaining in the first half.
After seeing her team fall behind for the first time all afternoon, Sarah Mannelly pulled the Rams even by scoring with 42 seconds remaining. With New Canaan possessing in Danbury territory, Mannelly charged the net and scored with four seconds remaining before halftime to put the Rams in front for good.
"I would definitely credit New Canaan and their coaching staff for making the adjustments needed," Danbury coach Lauren Scott said. "The first 25 minutes I thought we hung in well in all aspects of the game. We hung with the best team in state, and that should be a positive for the girls to take into the state tournament."
Hompe scored a pair of goals to start the second half before Danbury cut into the deficit on a goal by Pauline Kaplan to make the score 12-10 in New Canaan's favor. Eight unanswered goals later and New Canaan was in the FCIAC semis.
"I think offensively we settled the ball a lot better in the second half, and we were more aggressive on the draw controls," New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. "At halftime, we talked about working it around offensively and not forcing it. I think we were just forcing it and thinking we could run through them, and they're a spectacular defensive team."
As the score would suggest, there was no shortage of scoring opportunities for either squad, but it was New Canaan outshooting Danbury by a 37-20 margin. New Canaan's Liz O'Sullivan came up with six of her nine saves in the second half, and Danbury's Alexa Lucchesi also turned away nine shots.
NEW CANAAN 20, DANBURY 10
DANBURY 9 1--10
NEW CANAAN 10 10--20
Records: Danbury 9-8, New Canaan 17-0.
Scoring: D--Raven Winters (5g, 2a), Pauline Kaplan (3g), Lindsey Eanniello (2g). Kendall Krafick (2a). NC--Olivia Hompe (7g, 3a), Sarah Mannelly (5g, 2a), Bea Eppley (2g), Lily Citrin (1g),Carolina Lizzio (1g), Devon Calhoun (1g), Isabel Taben (1g), Kristine Ryan (1g), Abigail Sawabini (1g). Goalies: D--Alexa Lucchesi (9 saves); NC--Liz O'Sullivan (9) Shots: D--20; NC--37.