NEW CANAAN -- Needing to find another gear in its FCIAC quarterfinal contest after struggling through the first period, the New Canaan field hockey team wasted little time imposing its will once the second half began.
By doing so, the Rams found their way past a dangerous opponent and served notice that they could be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the competition.
With 28:23 left in the contest, Eppler received the ball at the top of the circle and fired a quick shot that evaded the onrushing Warde defense and went through the legs of goalie Katy Stepsis and into the back of the cage.
"We moved the ball quickly and took advantage of the opportunities," New Canaan coach Erin Gildea said. "We just wanted to keep shooting and get the ball on the cage. Our corners were executed well and that opened up some chances."
The second half performance was far better for the Rams, who had quality chances to extend their lead throughout the period and would have if not for the skills of Stepsis. New Canaan registered nine of their 10 penalty corners in the second half.
"We were a little slow in the first half getting started but once we started talking and working together we were able to pick it up," Falcone said.
Falcone clinched the win with 50 seconds left after finding a large gap in the Warde defense and looping a shot past Stepsis.
"There was a ball in the circle so I just took it," Falcone said. "I looked up, there was no one in front of me, I saw the cage and just took a shot."
Warde's best chance to tie the game came with 4:45 left from a well-worked penalty corner. After struggling to find space most of the game, Mustangs standout Lindsey Adams created enough room to hit a shot that trickled inches wide of the cage. The chance was one of the few looks Warde had.
"We didn't shoot," Warde coach Jodie Shannon said. "We had corners and time in the offensive circle but we only had one shot that made it towards their goal. You can't score if you don't shoot."
The two sides played to a 0-0 draw during the regular season, and Friday's contest had a similar feel early on as both teams traded time in the oppositions half. When the Rams found their groove after the break, Warde was unable to keep pace.
"New Canaan passes the ball very well, it was very effective," Shannon said. "In terms of making us run I'm sure that was part of their strategy, knowing we didn't sub. We had to chase it and it definitely hurt us."
New Canaan will meet Darien in the semis on Tuesday, a team it defeated 4-0 on the opening day of the season. The Blue Wave know a much improved effort will be needed as the chase for their first FCIAC crown in 12 years continues.
"If we play our game we have just as good a chance as anyone. Coming into the season you know the road to any championship is probably going to go through Darien and we've been prepared for it. It will be a great game. There won't be any pressure because no one is expecting us to come through. All we have to do is play our best and take it from there."
New Canaan 2, Warde 0
FAIRFIELD WARDE 0 0--0
NEW CANAAN 0 2--2
Records: Fairfield Warde 10-4-1-2; New Canaan 13-2-2.
Goals: NC--Beatrix Eppler, Bridget Falcone. Assists: NC--Falcone, Martel Bruno. Goalies: FW--Katy Stepsis (9 saves); NC--Emma Ball (1). Shots: FW--2; NC--14.