GREENWICH — When it comes to faceoffs, New Canaan has one of the premier players in Nick Crovatto.
Crovatto has it all: natural talent, a great position coach and two teammates who would start for many teams testing him in practice.
“It is a weapon that we have,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “We have three guys and most teams have one. We have a guy in every grade. It is a position we feel confident at and it is something that is an advantage for us.”
Case in point: today’s 13-8 win over Greenwich. The Rams had a 15-8 edge in draws, which allowed them to dominate ball control.
“I think a lot of that has to do with Nick and the other faceoff guys,” Buzzeo said. “I think we were maintaining possession pretty well today. Whenever you have a chance to do that against any team you have a chance to win.”
Quintin O’Connell scored 4 goals for New Canaan (7-2, 5-0 FCIAC), which never trailed and outscored the Cardinals 6-2 in the final 13:10 of the first half to take control.
“We were patient on offense,” Buzzeo said. “We had an off day shooting and their goalie played great. Between hitting pipes, hitting the goalie in the chest and missing the cage by a few inches we could have put that game away a lot earlier than we did. Credit Greenwich for hanging in there, riding us well. This was definitely a tougher game than we wanted it to be.”
The Rams kept their focus with Saturday’s rivalry game against Darien up next. It helped that they were playing a quality opponent, one led by Bobby Lutz, a former Blue Wave assistant who employs a similar style.
“We prepared for both teams all week long,” Buzzeo said.
New Canaan’s success again started with Crovatto getting his team the ball, though he deflected credit.
“A lot of that has to do with our wings honestly,” Crovatto said. “We didn’t get that many breaks today and I have to credit the wings.”
Both Buzzeo and Crovatto also pointed to Michael Santos, who arrived at New Canaan three years ago to coach the position.
“We spend a lot of time focusing in on the specifics,” Crovatto said. “A lot of repetition, a lot of hand-speed work and just going live a lot in practice helps too.”
Crovatto, a senior, never has to worry about complacency. Pushing him every day are the Rams’ two other specialists, junior Tim Norton and sophomore Justin Wiefeldt.
“It’s unique for our team,” Crovatto said. “We have great depth at faceoff X. I push them, they push me and we get better every day we go against each other.”
New Canaan’s strength is the area Lutz said is his team’s biggest concern right now, a reason the Cardinals (5-4, 5-3) have been straddling the .500 mark.
“It was hard to get possessions,” Lutz said. “We’re really struggling at the faceoff X. If you’re playing from behind and you can’t get the ball it’s hard to come back. We’re going to fix it. Possessions are really hurting us right now. I think our offense is strong enough to score and we’re really competitive against top defenses, but we’re just not having the ball enough.”
Liam Griffiths finished with 3 goals and 1 assist, while Ben Conley added 2 goals and 1 assist for the Rams. Seven different players scored.
Charlie Graves, Jack Feda and Matt Baugher each scored twice for the Cardinals. Graves added 2 assists. Connor Santry was outstanding in goal, with 14 saves.
Greenwich twice got within three goals in the second half, but on each occasion the Rams answered quickly, the second time with four straight scores.
“When we did have the ball and we play as a team we have very strong individual players,” Lutz said. “That sometimes can hurt you a little bit because they all think they can take over a game by themselves. Sometimes you need more role players than superstars.”
Crovatto said it was easy for the Rams to resist the temptation of forethought.
“This was a big game for us,” Crovatto said. “We don’t look past anybody. We know how important these wins are even though we have our biggest game of the year Saturday against Darien.”