Tale of Two Halves: New Canaan Girls Lax Falls 20-10 at Rival Darien


It was the first time the two rivals had seen each other since last year’s classic FCIAC championship game, when Darien defeated New Canaan, 13-12, in triple-overtime. And with both squads coming into Tuesday afternoon’s matchup boasting undefeated conference records, many were hyping it to be a potential preview of this year’s FCIAC final.

But after a back-and-forth first half that saw five tie scores and three lead changes, Darien (12-1-1, 8-0 FCIAC) took it to New Canaan (12-2, 8-1 FCIAC) in the second half, scoring ten goals while holding the Rams to one, for a convincing 20-10 victory.

“We just stopped playing,” New Canaan head coach Kristin Woods told NewCanaanite.com when asked about her team’s second half troubles. “We played great in the first half. We were poised, aggressive and moving the ball well. Then the second half we didn’t have the ball. It was a matter of possession. Yes, we made poor decisions [when we had possession], but it was a matter of possession. You can’t play the game you want to if you don’t have the ball.”

Darien notched the first goal of the game just under two-and-a-half minutes in when midfielder Emma Jaques sent one by New Canaan goalie Caroline O’Dea off a free-position opportunity. Two minutes later, New Canaan’s Braeden Dial answered to tie it up at one. The Blue Wave retook the lead a couple minutes after that on a tally from senior Katie Cronin and stretched the lead to 3-1 off the ensuing draw when Jaques netted her second of the afternoon.

But the Rams would score two in response, from senior co-captain Catherine Granito who bounced one through Darien goaltender Carlie Schoudel’s legs and sophomore Karlie Bucci, respectively, to knot the score up at three. But Darien would not let New Canaan take the lead as just over a minute after Bucci’s goal, Cronin found the back of net again, allowing the Blue Wave to retake the lead.

Bucci had a great chance to tie it again in the minute that followed, when she put a shot on net from point-blank range, but Schoudel would have none of it as she made the save to preserve the one-goal lead. Two minutes later the Blue Wave were up two again, 5-3, when Laura Murphy netted one past O’Dea.

Forced to come back for a third time in the half, the Rams would answer the call again. Senior co-captain Kylie Murphy notched her first tally of the afternoon to make it 5-4 and Bucci followed with her second of the game, off a spectacular feed from Granito, to even things up at five. The two teams would trade goals again, with Darien senior co-captain Chandler Kirby netting her first and New Canaan junior Campbell Armstrong getting hers off a free-position, respectively, to make it 6-6.

Then the Rams would finally get over the hump one minute later and take their first lead of the game, off another free-position score from Armstrong, to go up 7-6. Which was then followed by another tally from Kylie Murphy on a free-position to put the Rams ahead 8-6 with just over five minutes to play in the opening half.

However, the Blue Wave would not stand down. They answered being behind multiple goals for the first time with four consecutive scores in the game’s next four minutes with two from Kirby (her second and third of the half), and one each from Susie Ropp and Laura Murphy, to claim a 10-8 lead with 31 seconds to play.

Then on the draw following Darien’s tenth goal, Dial ended up with ball for New Canaan. Immediately, she looked upfield, fed it to a streaking Granito on a breakaway, and the co-captain beat Schoudel for a goal to bring the Rams within one, 10-9, heading into the half–and hopefully some momentum to carry with them into the second.

That, however, did not come to fruition.

After 3:51 of scoreless play to begin the half, the Blue Wave’s Anna Stein netted one to put Darien up 11-9. It would be the first of nine consecutive second-half goals for them. The star of the run was Kirby who, after already collecting a hat-trick in the first half, put up four more in the second–contributing greatly to putting the game well out reach for the Rams.

With one minute remaining, Kylie Murphy prevented New Canaan from getting shutout in the half when she got her hat-trick tally for the Rams’ tenth goal of the afternoon. But it provided very little solace to what amounted to a half that New Canaan can’t wait to move beyond.

“One thing with this team being as young as they are is just focusing on playing the full 50 minutes,” Woods said. “We can’t have any lapses against any teams in the FCIAC because they’re all strong. We didn’t even do that [play a full game] at Yorktown on Saturday. We went down 3-0 in the first five minutes. So it’s a matter of putting a full game together and hopefully we’ll be able to do that by season’s end.”

The Rams return to action on Thursday, May 12, at 4 p.m. at Dunning Stadium, with a resumption of a suspended contest against Norwalk, with New Canaan leading 7-1 with 10:32 to play in the first half. And they conclude their regular season schedule on Tuesday, May 17, with a matchup versus Longmeadow of Massachusetts.

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