New Canaan’s Natalie Lopez (23) knocks the ball away from Henna Brennan (2) of Longmeadow, Mass., as New Canaan’s Kaleigh Harden (6) also defends during Saturday’s girls lacrosse game at Dunning Field. — Dave Stewart/Hearst Connecticut Media
The New Canaan Rams and Longmeadow Lancers of Massachusetts have developed quite a long-distance rivalry over the years. For the past three seasons, the Lancers had gotten the better of the deal.
On Saturday, it was the Rams’ turn as they overcame the Lancers, along with a heavy rain in the first half, for a 11-5 victory at Dunning Field.
New Canaan gained a 5-1 lead in the first 16 minutes and and held off Longmeadow, which hung close until late in the game.
“We’ve lost to them the last three years, so this is definitely a big win,” New Canaan head coach Kristin Woods said. “Steve (Dudeck) does such a great job with their program. He’s a fantastic coach and I like having them on our schedule because I know they’re going to be strong competition.”
The victory featured a strong performance from junior midfielder Jane Charlton, who racked up six goals and one assist to lead the offense. Senior Lauren Bisceglia added four goals and senior Campbell Connors found the net once.
Charlton was also key on draw, working with senior Kendall Patten and freshman Kaleigh Harden to give the Rams the possession advantage in the second half.
“Jane, Kaleigh and Kendall did an exceptional job with the draws,” Woods said. “Draw control is such a crucial part of the game, just coming up with possession, and then when we got it down on attack, we had some beautiful sequences.”
Harden had five draw controls, Patten had four, Charlton had three, and freshman Hollis Mulry had one.
“We’ve been working on boxing out on the draw,” Charlton said. “After losing (Karlie) Bucci (to graduation) there last year, no one was really ready to step up. So we’re working it to the outside, getting it as far as we could and then boxing out and that worked.”
New Canaan also had a big game on defense, led by seniors Caroline Schuh, Katelyn Sparks and goalie Caroline O’Dea (4 saves), and juniors Natalie Lopez and Elizabeth DeMarino
“Our defense played phenomenally,” Woods said. “The five of them back there really run a tough D and the high pressure really throws teams off.”
The Lancers presented some problems, especially in terms of possession. They won the opening draw and held onto the ball, forcing the Rams to play defense for nearly seven minutes.
“After the first draw, they had it for seven minutes, and it’s tough when you get into situations like that just to get into a rhythm,” Wood said. “They did a nice job and my kids responded and played hard.”
The Rams eventually got the ball and put five of the game’s first six goals on the scoreboard. Charlton scored four times during that run, with Bisceglia netting the other goal for a 5-1 lead with 9:10 to play in the first hal.
Longmeadow answered with goals from Emily Yorms and Henna Brennan, closing the gap to 5-3 at halftime.
Defense ruled in the second half, as the two teams were scoreless for more than 12 minutes.
“Our defense was crazy,” Charlton said. “I’m so happy for them. They held they them off for seven minutes at a time, and it worked so well. We tend to stick Schuh on their best players and she gets the job done. She knows exactly what to do.”
The Rams ended their own 21-minute scoring drought when senior Campbell Connors scored off a feed from Mulry at the 12:36 mark.
Charlton then added a free position goal 30 seconds later, giving New Canaan a 7-3 advantage.
Longmeadow’s Ilana Kofman gave the Lancers some life with their first second-half goal, but the Rams had a quick response.
Patten came up with the ball during the ensuing draw control and got it to Charlton, who sliced in front of the net and ripped a side arm shot past goalie Caitlin Joyce (8 saves).
Patten also assisted on the next goal, scored by Bisceglia, as the Rams took a 9-4 lead with 9:11 remaining.
New Canaan then outscored the Lancers 2-1 the rest of the way to clinch the victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jane Charlton, New Canaan. Charlton collected six goals and an assist, while also helping the Rams dominate on draw controls. She scored four of her goals in the first half, when New Canaan built a 5-3 lead.
“Once we got into the swing of it, we were just hungry for more, and we were working better on our cuts. We’ve been told don’t force it, don’t force it and maybe that got into our heads a little bit. But as soon as we got into the swing of it, we just kept going.” — New Canaan junior Jane Charlton
NEW CANAAN 11, LONGMEADOW (MASS.) 5
Longmeadow 3 2 – 5
New Canaan 5 6 – 11
Longmeadow: Ilana Kofman 2g; Henna Brennan 1g, 1a; Anna Maurer 2a; Emily Yorns 1g; Jenna Joseph 1g
New Canaan: Jane Charlton 6g, 1a; Lauren Bisceglia 4g; Campbell Connors 1g, 1a; Kendall Patten 2a; Dillyn Patten 1a; Hollis Mulry 1a
Goalies: L – Caitlyn Joyce 8 saves; NC – Caroline O’Dea 4 saves
Records: Longmeadow 3-3; New Canaan 5-1
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