Timely Goals Propel New Canaan Girls Lax to Victory Over Wilton, 14-10


Coming off its first loss of the season, New Canaan Girls Lacrosse looked to get back into the win column on Tuesday night at Wilton’s Kristine Lilly Field.

And thanks to hat tricks from senior co-captains Catherine Granito and Sami Stewart, and crucial saves from freshman goalie Caroline O’Dea, the Rams (7-1, 5-0 FCIAC) defeated the Wilton Warriors (2-3, 1-2 FCIAC), 14-10, to remain undefeated in conference play.

“We’re learning, and every game with a young team is a learning experience,” New Canaan head coach Kristin Woods told NewCanaanite.com. “I thought everyone came out tonight really focused, which was what we learned from Saturday where we had a first-half lapse when we went out to Long Island, and really didn’t show up ready to go. So we learned from that, and today we came out really on fire. They [Wilton] never had the lead; they only had us tied, briefly, 2-2. I think we scored at important times. Defensively, we got great stops – Caroline O’Dea stepped up big in the second half making some huge saves for us. And that kept our momentum going for us in the right direction.”

Just over three minutes into the contest, New Canaan’s sophomore attacker Gianna Bruno netted the first goal of the game off a feed from fellow classmate Braeden Dial, behind the net, for the 1-0 lead. Then just over a minute later, it was Granito notching her first of the evening on a cross-body shot she put past Wilton goalie Bridgette Wall, extending the Rams early lead to two.

The next five minutes were scoreless but included a save by each team’s goalie, on shots from point-blank range, that kept the score 2-0. Then a New Canaan foul was committed on Wilton’s Paisley Eagan, who took the free position opportunity and netted one past O’Dea to get Wilton on the board. Just over a minute later, Wilton added another tally to even things up at two on a goal from Erika Bonnist, through O’Dea’s legs.

The score was not tied for long, however, as right off the draw, New Canaan junior midfielder Campbell Armstrong sprinted up-field and fired a shot right past Wall and in to reclaim the lead for the Rams, 3-2. In the next three minutes, the Rams extended their lead to 5-2, with Stewart’s first of the night and sophomore Karli Bucci connecting off a behind-the-net feed from Granito.

But Wilton showed again that they were not going to go away. After Wall lived up to her last name by stopping two New Canaan shots, Wilton netted two in a span of 25 seconds to narrow the Rams’ lead to one, 5-4.

With 4:50 remaining in the opening half, it was O’Dea’s turn to stonewall a Wilton scoring chance, blocking a shot from Eagan to preserve the one-goal lead. With possession of the ball, the Rams went back on the attack, and 34 seconds later Granito put the ball in the back of the net to put New Canaan back up two. Wilton attacker Eva Greco would answer, though, to make it 6-5 with just over a minute remaining in the half.

But before the horn would sound, the Rams notched two crucial goals, from Dial and Armstrong, respectively, to take an 8-5 lead into the half.

And New Canaan would take the resulting momentum and run with it right out of the gate in the second half, scoring three times in the half’s first three-and-a-half minutes (Granito’s third, Stewart’s second and Bruno’s second) for five unanswered goals, which stretched the lead to six, 11-5, and forced Wilton to change its goalie, with sophomore Paige Brown replacing Wall.

“That’s one thing this team tends to do—have runs,” Woods said. “In the Greenwich game we scored four goals in one minute. I always tell them that they have to play with urgency the whole time, and not just the last 30 seconds of the half. But it was nice to get those two goals in, and they definitely know going forward that they can score at any point in the game, no matter whether we’re up or down.”

Wilton would fight back once again though, scoring twice in the next five minutes to pull within four, 11-7. After the draw for the second goal, though, New Canaan’s Stewart would answer one of the goals with her hat-trick tally, an impressive one as a result of the co-captain weaving her way through Warrior defenders and sending it on net while in mid-air, to make it 12-7. The Warriors would respond with another two goals in a short amount of time, from Greco and Eagan, respectively, to make the score 12-9 and force Coach Woods to call a timeout.

Just over one minute after the timeout was called, New Canaan added to its score once again, this time when senior co-captain Kylie Murphy netted her free position opportunity to make it 13-9 with 12:01 left to play.

“The timeout was just to get back to the basics,” Woods said. “We were doing a lot of things that aren’t [characteristic of] us, and we did get back to playing our game, scoring soon after the draw.”

The Warriors final quality chances of the game came in the minutes that followed Murphy’s goal, with Wilton firing three shots on net at O’Dea, including a couple free positions—and the keeper turned all of them away, to keep the score 13-9 and all but seal the deal for New Canaan’s victory.

The two teams would trade goals in the final two minutes of the game, giving the Rams a 14-10 victory to take back home with them.

And on a night where it seemed like New Canaan was nearly flawless offensively, count the co-captain Stewart as one who was more than pleased with the team’s effort and execution when on the attack.

“We were passing the ball around a lot,” Stewart told NewCanaanite.com. “We were getting the open lanes and girls were cutting through and we were just getting really good looks on goal. I think everyone had a really strong game, shooting wise, which was really great.”

The Rams next take the field on Thursday, April 21, for a home contest at Dunning Stadium against Norwalk at 4 p.m.

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