Norwalk tips New Canaan field hockey 2-1 at Dunning

New Canaan’s Zoey Bennett plays the ball in the midfield during the Rams’ game with Norwalk Wednesday at Dunning Field.— Dave Stewart photo
Momentum shifts were theme during Wednesday’s field hockey showdown between the New Canaan Rams and Norwalk Bears.
Unfortunately for the Rams, they were in the downswing when the contest came to an end.
Tessa Albrecht scored her second goal of the game to put Norwalk ahead with 20:36 remaining and the Bears made it stand up as they took a 2-1 decision from New Canaan at Dunning Field.
Norwalk had the early advantage and scored in the first six minutes, before the Rams regrouped and controlled the pace of play for the remainder of the first half, eventually tying the score on a goal by Zoey Bennett 9:11 before halftime.
The Bears (7-1-0-0), however, regained control over New Canaan (6-2-0-1) in the second half to get the win.
“I called a timeout in the first half, in the first five minutes, because mentally they didn’t seem like they were there yet,” New Canaan head coach Kelly Marks said. “So I brought them in and said ‘look guys, you’ve got to pick it up. This is your time, you need to find your tempo, you need to find your game’. They went out and did that, but the second half was a little rough.”
“This was a good one,” Norwalk head coach Kyle Seaburg said. “It’s nice to come back and play well, The first half, we started strong and then we had a little lull and they brought it to us. We knew they would do that. They’re a well-coached and we knew it was going to be a battle. I told the girls at halftime — 1-1 is why you play these games. These are exciting and fun and I’m really proud of them.”
The Bears had a big edge early on, earning the game’s first eight penalty corners during the opening 15 minutes and scoring the first goal when Albrecht found the cage at the 5:40 mark.
New Canaan, however, did respond and eventually started to get the better of play. For the game, Norwalk’s advantage on corners was just one at 11-10, and their shots lead was 11-7.
The Rams’ defense, led by Meghan Mitchell, Emily Knight and goalie Emily Gaeta (10 saves) helped to keep the score close.
New Canaan’s offense put the pressure on the Norwalk defense and goalie Jessica Montiero (6 saves), eventually breaking through for the tie.
Bennett scored the goal, ending a scramble in the Bewars’ circle, with senior co-captain Celia Sokolowski picking up an assist.
“It was the ball movement,” Marks said of the Rams’ run. “They worked off of each other. That’s what makes them so successful because they can do that. Once they start to get static, once they start to stand still, and once they start to second guess what they’re doing, that’s when it falls apart and they lose rhythm.”
With the game tied 1-1 at halftime, it was the Bears’ turn to regroup.
“We talked about communication and that’s what we weren’t doing for part of the game where we were stuck in our own heads,” Seaburg said. “Sawyer Mellio, one of my defenders, really stepped up as a senior; my goalie Jessica did a great job; and Lauren Deering were all talking to the girls. I can scream all I want but they really drown me out and they need to talk to each other.”
New Canaan had a few chances to take the lead late in the first half and early in the second, but couldn’t cash in.
The Bears then turned the tables when they moved the ball quickly up the field and scored in transition, with Albrecht capping the drive for a 2-1 lead.
“The second goal was truly a team effort,” Seaburg said. “It started back with Lia L’Archevesque passing to Julia (Sferlazza), passing to Tess. They just created the opportunity. One person gets there name in there but the others help create it. That was a really good team effort and it was great to see them battle through that.”
“That’s all mental,” Marks said of getting back on defense in a hurry. “When you lose the ball, your first thought has to be I need to get back and play defense. If your transition thought is too slow, goals happen.”
New Canaan made several pushes upfield during the final 20 minutes, led by MItchell, Sokolowski and Estelle Asker, among others, but was unable to knot the game.
Both teams have tough games coming up, as Norwalk goes out of conference to take on Cheshire, while New Canaan heads down Route 124 to take on rival Darien on Monday.
Marks said for the Rams, it’s all about communication and finding the energy they’ve had earlier this season.
“I can give them drills, I can give them exercises, I can write things on boards and show them film, but it’s them on the field at the end of the day,” Marks said. “They need to communicate better with each other and learn how to find the energy and work more as a team, especially when things are breaking down. We need to find our tempo again.”
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