Pick Up Your Sticks: 2016 New Canaan Rams Girls Lax Preview


It’s that time of year, when sports once again are played outdoors.

And the New Canaan Rams Girls Lacrosse team is eager to get back at it.

Scenes from New Canaan vs. Darien, May 7, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan

New Canaan Girls Lacrosse is primed to get its 2016 season underway. Credit: Terry Dinan

Overall, the team’s 2015 season was considered a success, as several dominant efforts led to a final record of 19-4, capped off by a Class M state championship.

Yet there were two games against arch-rival Darien that didn’t go the Rams way, including a heartbreaking, 13-12, triple-overtime, defeat to the Blue Wave for the 2015 FCIAC Championship, an instant classic.

It’s not a memory that head coach Kristin Woods likes to relive.

“Yeah that was a tough one,” Woods told NewCanaanite.com. “The FCIAC Championship was definitely a tough one. So we’re definitely looking to rebound [in 2016] after that.”

And to do that, the Rams will look to a new core of seniors to guide them. Gone from last year’s squad are the class of nine seniors, including two All-Americans—attacker Elizabeth Miller (Boston College) and goaltender Bailey Pilder (Gettysburg). In steps a class of five, four of whom are the captains of this girls unit—attacker Catherine Granito, attacker Kylie Murphy, midfielder Sami Stewart and defender Mia Carroll.

Scenes from New Canaan vs. Darien, May 7, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan

Senior co-captain Catherine Granito is one of four senior captains, along with Kylie Murphy, Sami Stewart, and Mia Carroll, looking to lead NC Girls Lax to another championship season in 2016. Credit: Terry Dinan

“Our core leaders are our captains,” Woods said. “A terrific strength of this team is our leadership. It’s a core group of people who have all been multi-sport athletes, and captains in most or all of those sports. So this isn’t their first season [in that leadership role], and they’re competitive in every sport they play. I always think having that helps when they compete at a high level throughout the year. It helps their maturity level and they help bring the team together when we need them to.”

Rounding out the senior class is Katharine Freiberg, who forms a triumvirate of senior attackers with classmates Granito and Murphy. They’re joined by a promising collection of sophomores seeking playing time up front: Gianna Bruno, Braeden Dial and Brooke Deane.

The middle of the field will consist of co-captain Stewart along with junior Campbell Armstrong and another promising sophomore, Karlie Bucci. Moving to defense, co-captain Carroll will be supported by a strong mix of talent that includes juniors Ellery Baran, Gwyn Thalacker and Caitlin Hevesy, and another sophomore budding with talent in Julia Ozimek. Among those five, four will get the starting nod from Coach Woods each game, giving the Rams much-needed depth on the back line.

Scenes from New Canaan vs. Darien, May 7, 2015. Credit: Terry Dinan

NCHS Girls Lacrosse Head Coach Kristin Woods (center). Credit: Terry Dinan

“Defensively we’ve been looking really good [during tryouts],” Woods said. “We’re strong; the kids have been really loud at practice, and we’re getting the [defensive] slides there sooner than we ever have. So I think even though we graduated two core defenders last year, I feel those who will fill in for them are ready to go.”

Describing her stellar sophomore class, Coach Woods said they’re people “who I really feel are going to make impacts for us this year.”

Asked who would replace the 2015 All-American Pilder in net, Woods said only: “We’ll see.”

In the mix for thatcrucial starting spot are sophomores Sarah Street and Cameron Blair, and freshman Caroline O’Dea. O’Dea is one of just two freshmen (the other being defender Caroline Schuh) set to suit up for Woods’ squad. “For us to take freshmen, it means they’ve been impressive,” Woods said. However, with the regular season set to get underway Saturday, there was no indication which of the three girls has the inside track on starting out of the gate, so that’s something Rams fans will have to look forward to.

Whoever starts in net, the Rams will need the goalie to be strong against fellow FCIAC foes Greenwich, Wilton, and Darien—perennial contenders in the league along with New Canaan. But Coach Woods also stressed to her team that every game and opponent must be looked at in the same way. That way it becomes difficult to lose focus simply because of the name on the front of the opponent’s jersey, she said.

“If you ever lose focus in a game, there’s always a team in the FCIAC capable of pulling off an upset,” Woods said. “One example of that last year was when Fairfield Ludlowe beat Wilton. So you never know.”

This year’s squad is a group that Woods has known for quite a while, and that’s just one reason she’s looking forward to the upcoming season.

“I get all of them starting in about third grade,” Woods said. “So I’m excited to see what they can do and the improvements they can make throughout the year.”

And one thing she and her team certainly would like to improve upon is getting a different outcome than last year whenever they play Darien. What will it take?

“I think it’s confidence,” Woods said. “I think it’s going out there, knowing we have the ability and the athletes to beat them—and I told that to the kids earlier in the week. No matter who is on the field with us, we have to show up to every game with the confidence we’ve had during tryouts. Because the kids have been aggressive and have the ‘want’; I think, mentally, our attitudes will be different if we go into every game, no matter who we’re playing, and just go all-out. It should be a great season. And hopefully it ends with us having FCIAC and state championships.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *