BRIDGEPORT--Leading by a goal midway through the second period, the Fairfield girls co-op hockey team fired shot after shot at Stamford-Westhill-Staples goalie Casey Bang in an attempt to add to its slim advantage.
Fairfield finally got the breakthrough on the power play late in the period and used a strong defensive effort in period three to put the game away.
Five different players scored goals and Phoebe Cascella made 24 saves as Fairfield defeated Stamford-Westhill-Staples 5-2 at the Wonderland of Ice on Saturday.
"I'm very pleased," Fairfield coach Anna DeVeau-Jalbert said. "I think I saw more shots on goal than I did all season; I'm so proud of the team. I've told them even if the (puck) doesn't go in the net you have to get it to the front of the net and they did that today."
Stamford's Meg Fay, who had a goal and an assist, cut Fairfield's (3-6-1) lead in half on the power play with 6:31 left in the second period. The goal seemed to jolt the hosts to life and Fairfield dominated the rest of the second and the first 10 minutes of the third.
"Sometimes it's easy to forget that anything can happen," DeVeau-Jalbert said. "Just like we kept scoring goals, (Stamford) can keep scoring goals. We just had to keep our head in the game and get going. I think it was a wakeup call and we kicked it into gear."
Anna Rasmussen scored on the power play with 2:09 left in the second to give Fairfield a 4-2 lead and Tabbey Cascella flipped a shot over Bang's shoulders and into the cage early in the third. Casey Crowley, Gabby Bochenczyk and Emily Sharp also scored goals for Fairfield, while Paige Reynolds added three assists.
"(The balanced offense) is extremely nice to see especially since we don't get to score a lot," DeVeau-Jalbert said. "A lot of the teams we play are way more advanced than we are. It's nice to play a team like Stamford because we are really evenly matched."
Rachel Stanford also for Stamford (2-7), which fell behind 2-0 in the first period. The visitors had many opportunities to score Saturday, but bad bounces and timely saves by Phoebe Cascella kept them in check.
"I think we did excellent today," Stamford coach Eli Williams said. "We're still learning the game for a lot of our players. We're missing a couple key members of our team (through injury) I think the team did well and they're starting to respond to the things we are putting out."
Cassie Miolene had two assists for Stamford. Bang made 28 saves, including 15 in the second period with Fairfield buzzing around her cage.
"Casey has been outstanding all year long," Williams said. "She's gotten better and better like everyone else. We lean on her especially while we are short in defense."
Stamford had 10 shots on goal in the third period, but Phoebe Cascella stopped them all.
"We rely on Phoebe a lot," DeVeau-Jalbert said. "She's our last defense and when our defense loses control of the puck we really rely on Phoebe to keep it together and she came through for us tonight."
Despite making tremendous strides in just its third season as a program, there is still room to grow for Stamford. Williams, who praised the efforts of his coaching staff, believes the future is bright for the group.
"Our kids work their hearts out whenever they are on the ice and that's why the program is growing," Williams said.
Fairfield co-op 5, Stamford-Westhill-Staples 2
STAM-WEST-STAPLES 1 1 0 --2
FAIRFIELD 2 2 1 --5
Records: Stamford-Westhill-Staples 2-7, 1-5 FCIAC; Fairfield 3-6-1, 3-4.
Goals: S--Rachel Stanford, Meg Fay; F--Casey Crowley, Gabby Bochenczyk, Emily Sharp, Tabbey Cascella, Anna Rasmussen. Assists: S--Fay, Cassie Miolene 2; F--Paige Reynolds 3 Anna Collimore, Tabbey Cascella, Paige Wickman. Goalies: S- Casey Bang (28 saves); F--Phoebe Cascella (24).