New Canaan deadlocks with McMahon in girls soccer

New Canaan senior co-captain Kendall Patten battles McMahon’s Kailynn Ortiz in the midfield during Friday’s girls soccer game at Dunning Field. — Dave Stewart photo
The New Canaan girls soccer team did plenty of things right during its game against the Brien McMahon Senators Friday at Dunning Field. About the only thing the Rams didn’t do was get the ball in the net as the game, despite their energetic performance, ended in a scoreless tie.
Sometimes, that’s soccer.
“Obviously, when we went out, we wanted to get the win, everybody does,” New Canaan head coach Rich Hickson said. “But we knew McMahon was going to be a tough opponent and they’re incredibly well coached with some fantastic players. It was a tough game.
“We didn’t concede, so that’s a huge positive, and we didn’t lose.”
The Rams’ Katherine Lisecky takes to the air. — Dave Stewart photo
The deadlock gave each team a point in pursuit of FCIAC and state tournament bids.
New Canaan improved to 7-2-1 with 22 points, and the Rams are currently in fifth place in the FCIAC standings. For McMahon, the result was a third tie this season, as the Senators are 5-2-3 with 18 points, good for seventh place in the league.
“I’m proud of everyone on this team,” senior co-captain Kendall Patten said. “We played the full 80 minutes and they just worked their butts off and played with heart.”
New Canaan had an outstanding performance from the defense, which has conceded just four goals this season while pitching seven shutouts in 10 games.
Goalkeeper Jordan Paterson, a senior, made 4 saves, with seniors Katelyn Sparks and Caroline Schuh, sophomore McKenna Harden, and juniors Sophie Potter and Katherine Lisecky playing well.
The defense managed to limit the chances for senior midfielder Chloe Ortolano and the Senators’ attack.
“They were great and they’ve been fantastic all season,” Hickson said. “They’ve been steady. Jordan is there in goal, and we’ve got seniors Sparks, Schuh — McKenna Harden’s been there, Katherine Lisecky slipped in today and did a fantastic job. We worked a lot on the defense aspect of the game in terms of organization and they’ve done well. It’s another one of our strengths.”
The Rams had the better opportunities overall, with the Senators clipping off New Canaan’s speed at the top in the first half. McMahon’s defense feature goalie Kayla Cocchia (5 saves) and backs Sophia Tarasidis, Jocelyn Lister and Sydney Molaver.
At halftime, the Rams discussed ways to get in better position for shots.
New Canaan freshman Kaleigh Harden goes high for the ball. — Dave Stewart photo
“They came to our Norwalk game and saw that we have speed up front and we like to hit it up top, so we tried to adjust to that,” Patten said. “Their team is very good, and we had a halftime talk about having the strikers check to, instead of having them run forward. So we were trying to play to feet more in the second half and, with McMahon chasing us around because we were playing really well to feet, that led us to have more of an attack.”
Patten had one of the closest strikes as her shot from 20 yards out htt the crossbar in the 43rd minute. Just one minute later, freshman Dillyn Patten nearly had a chance in the box, but collided with Cocchia and was turned back.
With 10 minutes remaining, Kendall Patten took a free kick and sent the ball to a crowd in the box. It rolled free to the left corner and was chased by Dillyn Patten, who passed in front to freshman Kaleigh Harden. Harden’s shot sailed just wide of the far post.
Throughout the final 20 minutes, New Canaan was able to penetrate deeper into McMahon territory, but came up empty.
“We spoke at halftime about trying to link in with our strikers, play off the ends and try and possess a little bit and get in behind them,” Hickson said. “It was a combination of us playing a little bit better and a little more intelligently in that final third, and maybe them tiring a little bit which gave us more space.
“It’s one extra pass or one extra touch and that didn’t quite happen for us, but it’s a positive result and a step towards where we want to be.”
New Canaan has some tough games ahead, starting with a road game at Darien (7-2-1) next Tuesday. Games against Ridgefield, St. Joseph and Staples will follow, and the Rams feel they’re up to the challenge and continue to play well against fellow contenders.
“Our Warde game where we beat them 5-0 has upset the FCIAC,” Kendall Patten said. “I’ve told the girls every game, we want to come in as underdogs. They’ve kept that mentality throughout the season which is why we’ve played so hard and we’ve had such a good year so far.”
“We’ve done well all season,” Hickson said. “We know there’s tough opponents coming up and the focus, the goal, is the same: We want to be in that top eight (for FCIACs) at the end of the season. We’ve got to go out there, compete, and try to get the wins and put ourselves in the best possible position.”
Girls Soccer – New Canaan 0, Brien McMahon 0
Friday, Oct. 5, at Dunning Field
Brien McMahon 0-0 0
New Canaan 0-0 0
BM – Kayla Cocchia 5 saves
NC – Jordan Paterson 4 saves
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