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New Canaan Girls Lacrosse Sinks Rival Darien in States

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The New Canaan High girls lacrosse team came flying out of the gate in Monday’s Class M state quarterfinals against archrival Darien and never looked back. Lily Citrin, Sarah Mannelly and Bea Eppler each scored twice as the Rams avenged last year’s exit from the state playoffs, 9-6, and advanced to the semifinals.

A 6-0 halftime lead was just what the Rams needed to erase the memories of the pounding Darien gave them just two weeks ago in the conference semifinals. New Canaan slowed the game to a crawl on offense and dictated the pace almost throughout.

“We wanted to send a message that we wouldn’t be beaten by as much as last time again,” Citrin said. “We kept our composure. Where Darien is our biggest rival I think sometimes we kind of freak out. We really just tried to play our game.”

Darien clawed its way back with Emily Stein leading with a hat trick in the second half. The Blue Wave pulled to within 6-4 with 11 minutes to play, but a penalty shot goal by Kristine Ryan just more than a minute later sapped Darien’s momentum.

New Canan’s lead grew to 9-4 on goals by Eppler and Caroline Lizzio. Darien cut the lead to 9-6, but the Wave turned the ball over with 1:20 to go. New Canaan then ran out the clock on the defending state champs.

“We rushed the ball a lot this year, so coach really made sure that we would settle it down today and play at our own pace,” Rams attacker Olivia Hompe said. “Possession was really key in this one because last time we played them we barely held the ball. That was big.”

Hompe was guarded closely, drawing double- and sometimes triple-coverage, but still notched a goal. After not having much to do in the first half, Rams goalie Liz O’Sullivan came up with five saves.

The team watched highlights of the offense of Northwestern University’s women’s lacrosse team as inspiration on how to guard against a team such as Darien, Citrin said.

New Canaan advances to the Class M state semifinals for the fourth straight year. The top-seeded Rams will take on fifth-ranked New Fairfield on Wednesday at Bunnell High School in Stratford at 7 p.m.

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