NEW CANAAN -- New Canaan High head coach Erin Gildea made no secrets prior to the start of the field hockey season. She believed her team had the talent to compete for championships.
Hosting Staples in a steady rain on Tuesday afternoon at Dunning Stadium, Gildea's Rams picked up their play and extended their unbeaten streak to six with a 3-0 shutout of the Wreckers, taking another step in solidifying their coach's claim.
In fact, the Rams have surrendered just one goal over unbeaten streak.
"We wanted to get an early lead so we'd be able to focus on passing and stuff at the end of the game, so it was good to get the goals in," said Bridget Falcone, who scored New Canaan's second and third goals. "We've started communicating a lot better and working as a team, which has really helped us. I think if we continue to do that, we'll be good."
It was the third consecutive loss for Staples, the reigning FCIAC Champions, albeit the previous two were both in overtime, a pair of 1-0 setbacks against Daniel Hand and Greenwich.
"We had moments throughout the 60 minutes that were good and some bad. I was disappointed that we didn't score, and it just didn't look like my team out there today," Staples head coach Ashley Del Vecchio said. "Throughout the midfield, we just couldn't push it up to our forwards. We need to score and be able to finish. We come too close to not win."
For the first 13 minutes, the action was relatively even with both teams creating a scoring chance or two. New Canaan goalie Emma Ball made several difficult saves to keep the game scoreless, highlighted by two consecutive stops on Staples' Shelby Phares from close range.
"She's amazing. It's great to have a goalie that you trust and who believes in herself. I know the team believes in her, and it allows us to take some more risks offensively and push the defense up," Gildea said of Ball, who notched the shutout by registering six saves.
New Canaan (5-1-1) broke the scoreless deadlock after Victoria Bruno received a long pass at the side of the Staples cage, and quickly sent a pass of her own to Abbie Jameson for a quick one-time tap in and a 1-0 lead with 16:38 remaining in the first half.
The Rams doubled their lead just over six minutes later, when Falcone gained possession in front of the net and beat Staples goalie Jodie Baris, who made six saves in the contest.
They found themselves with a three-goal cushion just 1:48 into the second half when Falcone scored her second goal to close out the scoring. Falcone had an opportunity at the hat trick, but shot wide left on a penalty stroke later in the second half.
"It was a great game. Staples is the defending FCIAC champions so we knew it was going to be a really tough game," Gildea said. "I think it's the most complete 60 minutes we've played so far. We've made a couple adjustments and we're trying to play a little bit more aggressively than we have in the past."
NEW CANAAN 3, STAPLES 0
STAPLES 0 0--0
NEW CANAAN 2 1--3
Records: Staples 3-3-0-2; New Canaan 5-1-1.
Goals: NC--Bridget Falcone 2, Abbie Jameson. Assists: NC--Victoria Bruno. Goalies: S--Jodie Baris (6 saves); NC--Emma Ball (6). Shots: S--7; NC--10.