Before the New Canaan girls lacrosse team's regular season concluded Tuesday on Senior Night against St. Joseph's, the Rams took time to honor and thank their senior for their years of dedication. Then, after emotions had understandably run high, New Canaan (11-5) buckled down and kept on giving to its senior leaders via a stunning eight first half goals and an impressive 13-2 victory send-off.
According to head coach Kristen Woods, the effort her team displayed on the field was a fitting tribute to the soon-to-be graduates.
"The girls played so hard for our seniors tonight," Woods said. "And the seniors themselves, namely Cassie Miller, Lizzy Burke, and Natalie Deney all played great tonight. This particular group has played together for quite a while and you could see from the performance on the field that this game meant a lot to them."
The Rams set the tone from the opening faceoff, netting three goals in a three-minute span from each of Isabel Taban, Madeleine Gertsen and Miller. The Ram attack continued to pepper Cadet goalie Mikayla Konecny (10 saves) with shots and scored five more times before halftime, inclduing two goals from Katie DeMarino. Deney, who made three first half saves, believed it just showed what the team is capable of when they come together as one.
"This senior night was incredible because you really saw the entire team rally around us and come together," Deney said. "When we work together, we're a very tough team, and that's the approach we need to have moving forward. I think we all know what we need to do to succeed and are prepared to do whatever it takes in the playoffs."
New Canaan maintained its offensive intensity in the second half with five more goals, highlighted by two more Taban scores that gave her a hat trick. With the offense looking like a force to be reckoned with and the defense limiting St. Joe's to one goal per half, New Canaan's demonstrative balance and improvement wasn't lost on its head coach.
"These girls have all gotten better as the season has progressed, and it's especially impressive considering how young so many of them were coming into the season," Woods said. "With how much they've improved, I really can't say they're that young team anymore. As long as they play to their potential, I believe good things will happen for them this postseason."
Senior Lizzy Burke attributes her team's current four-game winning streak to a tough, early season stretch that included multiple losses.
"We had some losses earlier this year that while tough at the time really made us the team we are today," Burke said. "This was one of our most encouraging games of the season. We played selflessly and communicated so well and that has a lot to do with learning from those losses."
The FCIAC tournament begins Friday with quarterfinal play that is scheduled to begin with two games at 4 p.m. No. 3 New Canaan will open against No. 6 Fairfield Warde at home at 7 p.m.