Norwalk field hockey holds off New Canaan to advance to semifinals
NORWALK — Sam Troetti admitted her hands were cold, but her Norwalk Bears field hockey is red-hot at the right time of the year.
Troetti made five saves, all in the second half, and denied a New Canaan breakaway as fourth-seeded Norwalk edged the No. 5 Rams 2-1 in an FCIAC quarterfinal playoff game at Testa Field on Friday night.
Norwalk coach Kyle Seaburg said one of his team’s goals is to always play in the cold because that means the Bears are playing in the postseason.
“I can’t feel my hands, but that’s OK,” Troetti said after Norwalk improved to 13-2-0-1 overall with its sixth straight win. “I trust every player in front of me and I trust myself, so I just try to stay relaxed because (the defense) feeds off me.”
Kaitlin Uralowich and Gracie Bradley scored the goals for Norwalk, staking the Bears to a 2-0 lead before New Canaan surged back in the second half.
With 21:30 left, Troetti made a nice save on a point-blank shot by New Canaan’s Ellery Baran, but the Rams would soon get one goal back.
One minute later, on a penalty corner, Meghan Mitchell sent one of her patented screaming hits into the circle to the far post where Cameron Dayton was there to knock it home, making it a 2-1 game.
“It was gorgeous,” Seaburg said of the goal. “We talk about this time of year, not getting freaked out when the game goes this way and that way. You’re playing good teams, so it’s going to go back and forth.”
Fifty seconds later, New Canaan appeared to score again on another penalty corner, but the official ruled the ball to was too high and dangerous, giving Norwalk possession.
“It’s one of those things,” New Canaan coach Alyssa Havens said. “Sometimes it’s in your favor and sometimes it’s not. Today, it just wasn’t.”
The Rams had one more big-time scoring chance in the second half when Baran got the ball on a breakaway.
Troetti was up to the task, however, denying the Baran before she could get off a good shot.
“I got that one. I just prayed to God and trusted myself and my abilities to get it out,” Troetti said. “I didn’t come out too far, but I met her at the right distance and did my job.”
Havens said her team was also done in by a slow start in the first half.
“It’s been something we’ve struggled with a lot,” she said. “A lot of times we make up for it, but today it just didn’t happen. We were in their circle quite a bit (in the second half), had quite a few opportunities and corners, but we just couldn’t convert.”
The Bears, meanwhile, converted twice in the first half and it proved to be enough.
The first goal came on a broken play off a penalty corner.
The insertion jumped over the stick of Uralowich, but was tracked down by Chiappetta who sent it back inside the circle. Uralowich picked up the ball and fired it on net where Bradley was able to re-direct it into the goal with 7:05 left in the first half.
“We communicate really well with each other and we don’t panic,” Bradley said. “We have a lot of girls behind us to help us out. It was kind of passed around and just happened to come to me.”
With 1:15 left, Norwalk doubled its lead when Uralowich blasted home a pass from Lauren Deering.
“I just saw the ball and I whacked it,” Uralowich said.
Norwalk advances to Tuesday’s semifinal round against top-seeded Wilton at Brien McMahon High School’s Casagrande Field.
New Canaan (11-5-1) will wait for the state tournament seedings to come out.
NORWALK 2, NEW CANAAN 1
NEW CANAAN 0 1—1
NORWALK 2 0—2
Records: Norwalk 13-2-0-1; New Canaan 11-5-1; Goals: NC—Cameron Dayton; N—Gracie Bradley, Kaitlin Uralowich; Assists: NC—Meghan Mitchell; N—Uralowich, Lauren Deering; Goalies: NC—Emily Gaeta (6 saves); N—Sam Troetti (5 saves).