New Canaan girls lacrosse overpowers Newtown
NEW CANAAN — It wasn’t easy, but the New Canaan girls lacrosse team preserved its unbeaten season by overpowering a feisty Newtown.
The 22-13 win at Dunning Field on Monday marks the sixth for New Canaan, which now outscored its opponents by a combined score of 108-39. Newtown, meanwhile, falls to 2-2 on the season.
Once again New Canaan’s dynamic duo of junior Olivia Hompe and senior co-captain Sarah Mannelly provided the fireworks. Hompe tallied seven goals and Mannelly put away six to seal the deal for the Rams.
The highlight reel score of the day came from Hompe, who moving toward the goal with feline quickness, flicked the ball behind her back for the score.
“She is an amazing player,” Newtown’s head coach Maura Fletcher said of Hompe. “I could put three players on her and she could still get six goals.”
Playing in 90-degree heat, the energy level on both sides clearly ebbed and flowed. New Canaan came charging out of the gate in the first half taking a 5-1 lead after just four minutes of play.
Newtown finally found its footing, but the Nighthawks still trailed 15-8 at the half.
The roles reversed at the beginning of the second half as an energized Newtown squad came knocking at the door. Within the first six minutes, they tallied four unanswered goals.
With the score 15-12, however, the Nighthawks had reached their high-water mark; the Rams were not going to let this game slip away. Newtown co-captain Kaitlyn VosWinkel put it succinctly, “we came out strong, but then they came out stronger.”
Once New Canaan regained its composure, it went on a 7-1 scoring run to close the door on Newtown.
In addition to Mannelly and Hompe, New Canaan received solid scoring production from senior Kristine Ryan, junior Lily Citrin, and freshman Isabel Taben, all of whom struck gold twice. Junior Briana McEwan and freshman Grace Freyre also found the back of the net.
Senior co-captain Meredith Bridges led the scoring for the Nighthawks with five goals followed by juniors Erin Kenning and Tressa Scott, both of whom had a hat trick. Julia Trudell and VosWinkel each added one.
“We knew coming into this game we were an underdog, but we ran with them the whole time,” said Fletcher. “Even if we could contain (Hompe), a team like New Canaan is so deep that there are still six other offensive players that are able to score.”
Despite her team’s loss, Bridges was upbeat. “The score didn’t really reflect how closely matched the two teams were. After this game I think we can beat anybody. A game like this builds our confidence.”
VosWinkel is also looking ahead. “I think we’ll win the Southwest Conference again. When we come to games like New Canaan it just helps us get better for the SWC.”
New Canaan’s head coach Kristin Wood feels her team needs to smooth the rough edges on their performance. “Defensively we definitely need to take it to them and be more aggressive. In the second half we came out flat-footed, and you can’t have any lapses especially against a team like Newtown; they’re a strong program, and they’re going to come back at you every chance they get.”
In addition to the prodigious scoring, a bright spot for New Canaan was the nimble play of goalie Liz O’Sullivan, who made several world-class saves late in the game.
“Liz was phenomenal,” said Wood. “She really had a spectacular second half.”
“This game showed us that we need to hustle even harder than we have been,” said New Canaan’s senior co-captain Julia Tuttle. “Newtown really wanted this game and they worked hard for it. We also ended up working hard for it, but it took us a little longer than it should have.”
“There are always ups and downs,” she added, “and hopefully there will be more ups than downs.”
Dave Crandall is a freelance writer from Fairfield County