The dig against New Canaan High School girls lacrosse has been that it is a two-person team. Led all year by star scorers Olivia Hompe and Sarah Mannelly, the Rams tended to rely on their dynamic duo a little too much.
When controversy struck, however, New Canaan proved to itself and the league that it was much more than Hompe and Mannelly. Hompe, starting goalie Elizabeth O'Sullivan, and defender Wheatley Raabe returned from "Under Armour-gate" as the Rams took on the Wilton team that eliminated them in the FCIAC tournament while they were shorthanded.
"We kind of put that [controversy] behind us, but yeah, it was in the back of our mind," Mannelly said. "We just wanted a second chance with the whole team and we knew we'd give it our all."
New Canaan could not have drawn up a more perfect game plan against the explosive Warrior offense. Jana Persky shut down Wilton's top-scorer, Casey Pearsall, holding her scoreless for nearly 40 minutes.
The Rams also expected Wilton to guard Hompe aggressively, and Mannelly and senior Liz DeTour took advantage. The unlikely duo combined for 10 goals as New Canaan toppled top-seeded Wilton, 14-11.
Mannelly was unstoppable for the first 35 minutes of play, netting six goals. When she wasn't scoring, Mannelly led a slow-burn Rams offense that took its time, killed the clock, and made very, very few poor shots on net.
DeTour was the offensive surprise of the night, coming alive in the second half for her best game of the season. She said she knew how much Wilton would focus on Hompe (she was held to just one goal) and was ready to step up.
"I was just in the right place at the right time and was able to finish my shots," DeTour said. "The way we played without Olivia and Elizabeth in the FCIAC semis, that speaks a lot towards saying we're more than a two-person team."
After allowing Wilton to come back and tie the game at seven all going into halftime, the New Canaan defense put forth an incredible effort in the second half, led by Persky. The Rams outscored Wilton 8-3 in the first 22:50 of the second half.
New Canaan has yet another huge showdown in the state tournament against a conference rival Darien. The Rams meet the Blue Wave in the Division M semifinals Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Fairfield Ludlowe.
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