MADISON -- Scoring three goals in just over two minutes usually leads to a positive result in lacrosse. It didn't work out that way Thursday for Daniel Hand High School in its Class M girls lacrosse quarterfinal against New Canaan.
Not only did the flurry of goals light the proverbial fire under New Canaan, but it also took the host Tigers away from their slow-it-down game plan and led to New Canaan's 11-7 victory.
"What happened after we scored those three goals is exactly why we wanted to slow it down," Hand coach Kevin Siedlecki said. "But I guess when you've got a shot you have to take it."
Hand was hoping for prolonged possessions on offense to limit opportunities for the Rams' fast-paced, high-powered attack. It worked until the three-goal blitz tied the game at 5 with 19 minutes remaining. With New Canaan leading 5-2 four minutes into the second half, Lauren Cole (three goals), Brooke Barry (three goals) and Erin Mammele scored for Hand in the span of 2:24 to tie it.
"After that they had the momentum but we answered back with heart and enthusiasm," New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. "It was good to see the girls react like that."
Elizabeth Miller led the charge for fifth-seeded and two-time defending Class M champion New Canaan (14-5). The Rams will meet No. 1 Avon Tuesday in the semifinals at a site and time to be announced. Miller finished with three goals and two assists.
"We knew after (Hand tied it at 5) that they had the momentum and the potential to win," said Miller, who suffered a bloody nose in the final minute. "We had to start winning draws and groundballs."
The Rams, who led 3-2 at halftime, certainly picked up the pace, much to the chagrin of the fourth-seeded Tigers (14-6), who were knocked out of the state tournament by New Canaan for the third consecutive year. After Miller gave the Rams a 6-5 lead with 14:57 remaining, Isabel Taben scored the third of her four goals for NC. Miller scored again and Catherine Granito (two goals) made it 9-5. After Cole scored for Hand, Taben and Kathleen DeMarino tallied for NC making it 11-6.
The Rams of those final 15 minutes were the team Siedlecki did not want to see Thursday.
"We're not going to out-run-and-gun them," he said. "We knew we had to keep them under 10. But we had a shot to take the lead in the second half and we've never given them a good game, so this was our best performance against them."
The Rams now have their sights set on a three-peat.
"Defending our title is huge," Woods said. "This is a new team but they have a lot of tradition to uphold. We had a great second half today and now we have to take that momentum and run with it."
New Canaan goalie Bailey Pilder finished with seven saves while Hand's Emilee Wargo stopped eight shots.
New Canaan 11, Hand 7
NEW CANAAN 3 8--11
HAND 2 5--7
Records: New Canaan 14-5, Hand 14-6.
Goals: NC--Isabel 4, Elizabeth Miller 3, Catherine Granito 2, Maddie Gertsen, Kathleen DeMarino; H--Lauren Cole 3, Brooke Barry 3, Erin Mammele. Assists: NC--Miller 2, Samantha Stewart, DeMarino. H--none. Goalie saves: NC--Bailey Pilder 7; H--Emilee Wargo 8.