Darien rallies three times in second half to top New Canaan
Published 2:00 pm, Thursday, April 14, 2011
Perhaps the best part of Darien's 13-11 win against FCIAC rival New Canaan is that fans can be sure there will be plenty more excitement for years to come.
Both girls' lacrosse squads have youth in abundance on attack -- some of the most talented underclassmen in the state. Darien, led by freshman Emily Stein and sophomore Taylor Hardison, who combined for five Blue Wave goals and three assists -- all from Hardison -- came from behind three times in the second half to earn a win in their first FCIAC game of the season.
Hardison scored the Blue Wave's first goal, but it was senior Ellie Bullit that led Darien in the first half. New Canaan took an early 4-2 lead, but Bullit's second goal of the game swung the momentum to the visiting side, giving the Wave their first lead of the game at 5-4.
But late in the second half, when leads changed with every score, it was Stein and Hardison who came through in the clutch, combining to score Darien's final four goals.
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"This game could have gone either way, but the offense did a fantastic job choosing their spots tonight and waiting for good shots," Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. "Considering the attack is so young, I'm very pleased."
New Canaan has its own dynamic duo in standout sophomore Oliva Hompe and junior Sarah Mannelly. Hompe, arguably the best ice hockey player in the state, picked up where her record-breaking winter season left off, scoring six goals, many of which came off passes from Mannelly, one of the state's standout guards and a 1,000-point scorer.
"They both shined tonight and played phenomenally. Olivia has played lacrosse for years but Sarah never played lacrosse before her freshman year," said New Canaan coach Kristin Wood, who has been Mannelly's first and only coach in the sport. "I like to take credit for her skills, but what she does you can't teach. She's a special player, the type of player I may never see again."
New Canaan graduated six senior starters from last years' Division I state championship team, most of whom played in defense. So while the Rams had the edge in possession and scoring chances, Darien capitalized on New Canaan's relative inexperience on defense, getting to goal with relative ease while drawing fouls that led to scoring chances.
"They've just got a lot of set plays on offense that look to get fouls and create shooting spaces (free shots)," Wood said. "That put our defense in some difficult scenarios and we didn't handle it very well. It's something we have to practice."
Entering the second half down 7-5, New Canaan scored twice in two minutes after the restart. For the next 16 minutes the teams traded goals, with the Rams' last lead coming at 11-10 when Elizabeth DeTour scored in space with seven minutes left.
But after a scintillating Stein run toward goal that resulted in a nifty finish, the writing was on the wall. Darien's increased pressure resulted in a New Canaan yellow card, during which the Blue Wave scored twice. New Canaan didn't get another scoring chance.
"Coach always tells us to be patient and when we go to goal, to go hard," said Hardison, who scored the winning goal on an individual effort of her own that began outside the circle. "She tells us if we have a shot, to take it. And I did."