Mannelly's late tally lifts New Canaan girls soccer past Darien
NEW CANAAN -- Despite monsoon rains, flash flooding around the field, and a small but vociferous visitors' crowd, the New Canaan girls' soccer team came from a goal behind for the second time this season to beat Darien 2-1 at Dunning Field on Friday.
After the teams traded goals in the first half, New Canaan got the game winner from co-captain Sarah Mannelly in the 65th minute, when her first-time shot from just outside the top of the box nestled into the top corner.
The goal was the result of one of the few successful New Canaan buildups during the second half, as both teams struggled to retain possession on the slick surface. But for a moment, everything came together for the Rams when Mannelly received a pass from midfield running towards goal and played a slick one-two with freshman Courtney Overacker. The return pass was perfectly weighted for Mannelly, who made no mistake with her only touch, a driven shot beyond the reach of Darien goalkeeper Phoebe Taylor.
"Unfortunately, today the conditions didn't help our passing, and then you had the added factor of the local rivalry," New Canaan coach Kirk Bamford said. "But I was pleased with the execution of both of our goals."
Just before Mannelly's goal, the senior co-captain had returned to the game after being taken out due to injury. Before she went on, Bamford had words of advice the striker apparently took to heart.
"I said for her to get in there and look for the ball, to see if she could make something happen," Bamford said. "She couldn't have understood those directions any better."
Dillon Schoen put the visitors ahead in the ninth minute when she redirected a low cross at the front post sent in from the left flank by Kristy Gilbert. Gilbert had been given a beautiful pass from fullback Alex Stein into space that freed her on the left side.
However, the home side, which came from behind against Warde last week, equalized three minutes later when Mallory Hall's left-footed cross found the head of Madzie Carroll. Carroll, who attacked the cross at the back post from behind the play, outhustled two defenders to get into position for the ball on the first bounce, powering a header into the lower corner.
For long stretches after the equalizer, Darien had the better pressure, outshooting the Rams 14-7 on the day. But for every shot off the slick field, New Canaan goalkeeper Holly Burwick was equal to the task, positioning her body behind every effort and comfortably controlling each test without spilling a rebound.
"I thought I handled the conditions pretty well and just wanted to make sure I got my body behind the ball," Burwick said. "In the first half there were a couple times I punched instead of caught shots. I didn't want to take any chances."
For Darien, whose lineup consists of several sophomores and juniors, there were more positives than negatives to take away from the game.
"For starters, we are beginning to get the ball on the ground and play," first-year Darien coach Leigh Parsons said. "We need to find a way to finish our chances a bit more and tighten up our defense at times, but we are creating opportunities. If we weren't creating chances, there would be something to worry about. It's to lose, especially when we feel like we deserved something from this game."