FAIRFIELD -- New Canaan spotted Fairfield Warde a pair of goals in the first three minutes, called time out, regrouped then warmed up on the extra man to close out the conference portion of its schedule Saturday afternoon at Tetreau/Davis Field with a 12-4 win over the Mustangs. The Rams, who converted five of seven man-up opportunities, improved to 10-3 overall and finished at 9-2 in the FCIAC with their third straight win.
Warde, which had won four of its last five FCIAC games and five of six overall, dropped to 4-5 in the conference with two games left to qualify for the FCIAC tournament. Neither game remaining is easy -- at defending Class M champion Wilton Friday and at McMahon (9-1) on May 21. Tom Cunningham, coach of the Mustangs (7-5), didn't need to study a spread sheet with all possible playoff-qualifying scenarios to say winning both games left is the best way to reach their season-long goal of being an FCIAC qualifier.
Rams' junior attackman Justin Meichner got two of his game-high five goals as New Canaan finished the first quarter on a five-goal run. New Canaan had the only two goals of the second quarter for a 7-2 lead at halftime. Warde ended a drought of no goals within a span of 29 minutes and 30 seconds when Austin Armas beat New Canaan goaltender Trent Nadar 2:17 into the third quarter, cutting the Mustangs' deficit to 7-3.
Warde next scored with 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter. By that time, the Rams had been on another five-goal spree and enjoyed a 12-3 lead.
"We need to play with a little more discipline," said Cunningham, citing the cause of the excess in penalties. "Our guys play with a lot of fire, and they play aggressively. We gave them extra-man opportunities, and a good team like that is going to finish them.
"We have to live with them (penalties). We have to limit those penalties," Cunningham said.
After Meichner's first goal, cutting the Rams' deficit to 2-1, a penalty was called on Warde. Twenty-two second later, New Canaan senior captain Harry Stanton fed Michael Kraus for an extra-man goal, and it was 2-2. Warde goalie Jason Nerreau made one of the more difficult of his 15 saves on the game soon after. But the Rams scored even-strength goals at 7:37, 8:22 and 11:37.
In the first half-minute of the second quarter, Meichner set up Kraus for New Canaan's second man-up goal.
Stanton said he knew the Rams soon would be focusing on the FCIAC tournament by winding up the regular-season schedule with three challenging home games -- Tuesday against Class M runner-up Barlow, Thursday against New Jersey power Don Bosco and Saturday against Class L champion Fairfield Prep.
"No, we didn't circle the date (at Warde on our schedule), but they're an opponent we respect," Stanton said. "We didn't take them lightly. We knew they played Darien close. Every game is a big game at this time of year.
"They came out fired up. We called time out and settled down. Once we did, we got seven or eight goals in a row, and we didn't look back. Our defense started communicating more. I think the first two (Warde) goals were from a lack of communication. We held them for awhile then our offense started to move it." Stanton said.
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New Canaan 12, Warde 4
NEW CANAAN 5 2 4 1--12
WARDE 2 0 1 1--4
Records: New Canaan 10-3, 9-2 FCIAC; Warde 7-5, 4-5. Scoring: NC--Justin Meichner 5 goals, 1 assist, Harry Stanton (2g, 1a), Cole Turpin (1g, 2a), Michael Kraus (2g), Teddy Bossity (1a), Robbie Paul (1g), Andrew White (1g), Clayton Burt (1a); W--Brendan King (2g, 1a), Mike Adams (1g), Austin Armas (1g), Jack Potenza (1a). Goalies: NC--Trent Nadar (10 saves), Will Hooks; W--Jason Nerreau (15). Shots: NC--25; W--15. Highlights: NC--Meichner scored three extra-man goals and Kraus scored two with the man-up. W--King and Adams scored in the opening three minutes for a 2-0 Warde lead.