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New Canaan Falls to Darien Despite Stars' Efforts

The good news for the New Canaan High School girls lacrosse team is that the talents of Rams ice hockey superstar Olivia Hompe and basketball captain Sarah Mannelly perfectly translate onto the lacrosse field. The bad news — they cannot be everywhere on the field. Hompe and Mannelly, along with attacker Kristine Ryan, almost singlehandedly won the game for the Rams on Wednesday evening, but archrival Darien put together a more complete team effort, downing the Rams on their home field, 13-11.

"Olivia and Sarah really stepped up and came out hard tonight," New Canaan head coach Kristin Wood said. "The rest of our team is usually right there, but those two really shined tonight."

New Canaan and Darien both lost significant portions of their rosters to graduation, resulting in inexperience in key parts of their games. On Wednesday night at least, Darien's young offense trumped New Canaan's young defense.

New Canaan jumped out to an early 4-2 lead, but one of Darien's few seniors, Ellie Bullitt, helped the Blue Wave claw right back with two goals in five minutes. The momentum then seemed to shift in Darien's favor for good when the Rams were called for an illegal pick with 20 seconds to play in the first half. Christy Gilbert raced the length of the field unopposed and gave Darien a two-goal lead with five seconds remaining.

The drama was just getting started, however. New Canaan's dynamic duo of Mannelly and Hompe teamed up on three second-half goals. Hompe finished with six scores and Mannelly racked up five assists. Mannelly's passing skills, which shined on the basketball court, perfectly complemented Hompe's innate scoring ability.

Darien's speed on offense proved to be the difference, though, as Emily Stein collected the game-tying goal with 7:23 to play. Two minutes later Taylor Hardison put the Blue Wave up for good, finally sapping the Rams' energy.

"We thought we had the momentum, but we've got a lot of young kids out there that got a little flustered," Wood said. "There were a lot of good things tonight and we have a lot more athleticism and depth on this team than in years past."

New Canaan (2-2) starts a tough, three-game road trip on Saturday when its travels to Yorktown, N.Y., for a noon matchup.

Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest MSC sports coverage.

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