Girls lacrosse: Strong start powers New Canaan past Wilton

In its first loss of the season last Saturday, the New Canaan girls lacrosse team had fallen behind early and never got over the hump in a 13-10 loss to Middle County on Long Island.

The Rams didn’t make the same mistake on Tuesday.

New Canaan (7-1) jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead over Wilton and never trailed in a 14-10 win at Lilly Field in Wilton.

“I thought everybody came out tonight really focused, and that was what we learned from Saturday,” said New Canaan coach Kristin Woods. “We had a little first-half lapse when we went out to Long Island. We didn’t show up fully ready to go, and we learned from that. Today we really came out on fire.”

The Warriors (2-3) rallied several times but never quite overcame a three-goal hole in the first half.

“I think New Canaan played a great game today, and we didn’t bring our best effort, so it was a bad combination,” said coach Meredith Meyran. “I was very unhappy with our defensive effort today, as a unit. We weren’t communicating, we didn’t play together, and again we came out and got ourselves into a little hole in the first half. Against New Canaan, you’re not going to come back.

“We also really struggled on draws," she said. "That’ s a big difference-maker, and that was definitely the difference today.”

Catherine Granito led the scoring for the Rams with four goals, while Sami Stewart had three goals and Campbell Armstrong and Braeden Dial scored two goals each. Gianna Bruno, Kylie Murphy and Karlie Bucci also scored.

For Wilton, Eva Greco and Rebecca Wistreich each scored three goals, while Paisley Eagan and Julia Bonnist had two goals each. Eagan and Greco also had an assist each.

After taking the early lead, New Canaan seemed to have an answer every time the Warriors made a run. After Wilton goals by Eagan and Bonnist tied the game at 2-2 midway through the first half, the Rams came right back to score eight seconds later when Armstrong won the draw control and took the ball right to the cage to score.

She won the next draw control, too, leading to a free position goal by Stewart just 37 seconds later. Less than a minute after that, after the Rams won another draw control, Bruno scored off a Granito assist to make it 5-2.

Wistreich scored two goals in a span of 25 seconds, with Sydney Brant winning the draw in between, to cut the lead to 5-4 with 6:07 left in the half.

Greco scored from the side of the cage to make it 6-5 with 1:13 left in the half, but New Canaan again controlled several draws in a row to score twice in the final minute, the second goal scored by Armstrong with eight seconds left, for an 8-5 halftime lead.

New Canaan continued to dominate the draw controls early in the second half, helping the Rams score three times in a span of a minute to go up 11-5 with 21:36 left to play.

The Warriors used a 4-1 run to cut the lead to 12-9, but the Rams made it 13-9 on a free position goal by Murphy with 12:01 left.

Both goalies came up with key saves over the next 10 to 11 minutes — New Canaan’s Caroline O’Dea and Wilton’s Paige Brown (who also had a key interception) — before Bucci scored an insurance goal for the Rams with 1:54 left.

For the game, New Canaan had a 26-17 edge in shots on goal. O’Dea had seven saves for the Rams, while Brown and Bridgette Wall each played a half in goal for Wilton, with each making six saves.

“The draws were huge and crucial, and I think we scored at important times, and defensively we had a few great stops,” said coach Woods. “Caroline O’Dea stepped up big in the second half and made some huge saves for us, and that definitely kept our momentum going in the right direction.”

“(New Canaan) was really strong today. They didn’t turn the ball over, and we had difficulty getting possessions," said Meyran. “They don’t turn it over, so if you don’t win it off the draw then you’re going to playing a lot of defense, and that’s where we found ourselves today.”