Girls Lacrosse

Dial’s Five Goals Help Lead New Canaan To 10-6 Class L Quarterfinal Win Over Wilton

New Canaan’s Braeden Dial winds up to take a shot against Wilton. Dial finished with five goals. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

WILTON — When they last met 10 days ago, the members of New Canaan’s girls lacrosse team got perfect and repeated views of Eva Greco’s back.

On 20 occasions, Wilton’s multifaceted star faced off against one of three New Canaan players, and on 16 of them Greco earned the Warriors control of the ball.

The result was a 10-8 win for Wilton in the quarterfinal round of the FCIAC Tournament.

And in the interim leading up to today’s rematch in the Class L quarterfinals, Rams coach Kristin Woods looked to close the gap. That included yesterday bringing in two of her best graduates: Olivia Hompe, one of the best three-sport athletes in state history, and Elizabeth Miller, who last weekend was playing for Boston College in the NCAA championship, for an advanced tutorial.

New Canaan’s Karlie Bucci gets a shot by Wilton goaltender Paige Brown. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

The result? The Rams enjoyed a 10-8 draw advantage today, scored four straight goals to break open a 4-4 tie, including three in a 56-second span early in the second half, and rolled to an impressive 10-6 win.

“Our seniors really stepped up today,” Woods said. “In every practice since the FCIAC game we really focused on draw controls, possession and aggressive defensive play, and our kids did a really good job against an unbelievable Wilton team.”

The fifth-seeded Rams (15-5) will get to see another familiar opponent in Tuesday’s semifinals: top-seeded Darien, a 15-8 winner over Fairfield Ludlowe.

New Canaan’s McKenna Harden goes after a loose ball. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Braeden Dial was outstanding for New Canaan, finishing with five goals and one assist, scoring from assorted angles with Gumby-like contortion moves.

“In the FCIACs we got down and we really wanted to make sure we came in with a good basis, and having that lead gave us a little bit of buffer room allowing for mistakes in the rain,” Dial said. “We gave it up a couple times in the end but that lead really helped us. I think it was draw controls. Eva killed us last time. This time they were even and it helped us a lot. Possession. Pure possession.”

Karlie Bucci took a majority of the faceoffs for New Canaan, but McKenna Harden and Julia Ozimek were used in rotation.

Wilton’s Taylor LaMantia looks to make a pass as New Canaan’s Nora Belodeau defends. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

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“That FCIAC game really pumped us up,” Dial said. “It gave us time to look at our weaknesses. It showed in this game. We really worked on our draws and it worked out. It helped us build a good lead and ultimately win the game.”

Bucci and Charlton each scored twice for New Canaan, which won the teams’ regular-season meeting.

Wilton coach Meredith Meyran agreed today’s game was like a reversal in almost every aspect from last week.

“New Canaan did a great job on the draw today,” Meyran said. “They made a big adjustment there and it was tough for us to recover. One hundred percent was the draws. We had a lot of extra possessions last week so that was the huge difference tonight.”

Wilton’s Sophie Sudano tries to get by New Canaan’s Nora Belodeau. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

Wilton (15-5), the fifth seed, led just once, at 2-1, after Sophie Sudano’s goal midway through the first half. There were three ties after, the last at 4-4 following the second of Julia Bonnist’s three goals.

But the Warriors were held to just a pair of second-half goals and shut out for the final 16:22. New Canaan not only dominated possession time but played intelligently with the lead, killing clock and limiting turnovers.

“If you don’t have the ball it’s hard to score and we really didn’t have the ball in the second half very much,” Meyran said. They did a great job. It was the exact opposite of last week. We were ready and the girls came out hard and I’m proud of their effort. You just feel for the seniors.”

When Wilton did have the ball, New Canaan’s defense closed off paths to the cage and goaltender Caroline O’Dea stopped four shots.

“Braedan was outstanding. Between Braeden, Bucci and Julia, our three captains, and defensively Caroline O’Dea,” Woods said. “Caroline really stepped up. Her saves were fantastic and her clears. We have a lot of work to do before Tuesday but if we come with the same energy and excitement I think this team is unstoppable.”

New Canaan’s Karlie Bucci takes a shot. Bucci finished with two goals. (Photo: Mark Conrad)