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New Canaan girls lacrosse team dominates second half to defeat Staples

Updated 9:36 pm, Tuesday, April 23, 2013
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The New Canaan High girls lacrosse team kept its perfect season intact Tuesday, exploding for 11 goals in a dominant second half to score an 18-5 victory over Staples at Dunning Stadium.

The Rams led just 7-4 at halftime before putting the game out of reach.

"We really wanted to focus on the second half because we knew we weren't playing that strong," said New Canaan's Bea Eppler, who scored three goals and dished out three assists. "We kind of just wanted to run away with it, so we came out with a lot of momentum."

Although Staples eventually succumbed to New Canaan's never-ending pressure, the Wreckers' coach, Peter Najarian, was encouraged by what he saw, especially in the first half.

"Tough team for sure. And it's a tough stadium to play in; there's no question there's a home field advantage," Najarian said. "I thought we played them well, certainly in the first half. I thought we ran out of gas a little in the second half, but otherwise I'm very proud of these girls."

New Canaan's Olivia Hompe spearheaded New Canaan's offensive output by notching the game's first three goals -- with Eppler assisting on two -- for the 3-0 lead.

Staples got back in the game when Jenna McNicholas and Ryan Kirshner scored on penalty shots to close the deficit to 3-2, and the rest of the first half was fairly evenly played.

New Canaan's Elizabeth Miller scored on a penalty shot for the 4-2 lead, before Staples' Paige Murray brought her team to within one at 4-3. Hompe and Eppler scored for a 6-3 advantage with 8:25 remaining in the half.

After more than six minutes of scoreless play, Staples' Deanna Schreiber got one back for the Wreckers to make the score 6-4 with 2:15 left in the half, but the Rams' Lily Citrin scored her first of three goals for a 7-4 lead with 1:15 remaining. The score stayed that way at halftime.

New Canaan (8-0, 6-0 FCIAC) found its stride in the second half, however, and scored the first five goals to boost its lead to 12-4. Staples (6-3, 3-3) got one back, but New Canaan netted the final six goals.

With the Rams dominating possession in the second half, the Wreckers were rarely on the attack. Even when they were, goalie Liz O'Sullivan, defender Kelly Armstrong and the rest of the Rams' defense were up to the challenge. Staples' lone goal of the second half belonged to McNicholas.

"We knew they were out to get us. Every team is out to get us these days," Armstrong said. "The first half, I think we took risks on defense, and we got beat on those risks. But once we started to win all the draw controls, take care of the ball on offense and slow it down, I think that helped us out."

Staples is back in action on Friday at Trumbull at 4:30 p.m.

"It's a rebuilding year for us. We're doing some good things," Najarian said. "I thought they came in here and played them tough in the first half, and they'll definitely be back and play them tough again."

New Canaan will once again put its perfect record on the line when it plays host to rival Darien on Thursday at 4 p.m.

"We have Darien coming up, which is what we're looking forward to. It's about midway through the season, so I think it's the perfect time," Eppler said. "We have a lot of momentum going. If we play our game, I think we'll be just fine."

jchik@bcnnew.com; Twitter: @jchik17

NEW CANAAN 18, STAPLES 5

STAPLES 4 1 -- 5

NEW CANAAN 7 11 -- 18

Records: Staples 6-3 (3-3 FCIAC) New Canaan 8-0 (6-0).

Scoring: S -- Jenna McNicholas (2g), Ryan Kirshner (1g), Deanna Schreiber (1g), Sami Bautista (1a); NC -- Olivia Hompe (6g, 1a) Bea Eppler (3g, 3a) Elizabeth Miller (3g), Lily Citrin (3g), Isabel Taben (1g), Grace Freyer (1g, 2a), Kathleen DeMarino (1g). Goalies: S -- Emma Boland (4 saves), Nicole Najarian (1); NC -- Liz O'Sullivan (7). Shots: S -- 15; NC -- 23.

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