Commentary: Family Attitude Has New Canaan Peaking At Right Time

FAIRFIELD — Family was a recurring theme for New Canaan’s Teddy Manges following today’s game with Fairfield Prep. That has been the source of strength for the Rams the past two weeks, Manges said.

But at halftime this afternoon, the family needed to regroup. The Rams trailed, 7-5, but had rallied from three four-goal deficits.

“We went into the locker room at halftime and we were confident that we were coming back,” Manges said. “We’ve always been a family this whole season. Even when we’re losing, even when we’re down. The culture around this lacrosse team has been family-like the past two years. That is a perfect reason for how we responded in the second half.”

And respond the Rams did. They scored six of the next seven goals — three by Manges — to go up, 11-8, and rolled to a 15-12 win, their sixth in a row.

“We took it as it was 0-0,” said Manges, who finished with four goals. “We just stuck to our game. We knew we didn’t play up to our potential in the first half. I think we were just sharing the ball more. Often times when we get stuck one person tries to do too much but the second half we shared the ball, moved the ball quick, got some assists and when you move the ball quick you find more opportunities. We just found more opportunities to shoot and score. That’s why we won.”

Almost every one of the Rams’ goals was the result of a well-directed pass. They did a better job after the break on draws and maintained possessions.

“It started at the faceoff X,” New Canaan coach Chip Buzzeo said. “Our guys really started to get into a groove. And our offense is potent. When they get the ball and start moving the ball like they do it’s hard to stop them. At halftime we talked about winning the faceoff, getting the ball on offense and doing what we do. We had that team effort. We clamped down a little bit on defense. It was a great team effort tonight. It was awesome.”

Chris Canet and Ryan Caione scored three goals apiece, while Liam Griffiths and Quintin O’Connell each finished with two goals.

The Rams are 9-4, but two of the losses were to out-of-state teams and two to non-CIAC schools.

“It’s been a great regular season,” Buzzeo said. “I think a lot of our young players have learned a ton. Our senior leadership has been great. Yes, we’ve faced a lot of adversity. But we’ve played an incredible schedule and we’ve had a lot of fun playing this schedule.”

The Rams are peaking at the right time. After a game against Westhill comes next Saturday’s annual rivalry battle against Darien, often the highlight of the FCIAC regular season. The two schools and Ridgefield are still unbeaten in conference play.

“We’ve been on an upswing since two weeks ago,” Manges said. “We started playing a lot better. The family culture on the team, we’ve faced so much adversity this season. And I think nothing is going to stop us. We have practiced relentlessly throughout this week, throughout last week and these next two weeks are going to be a big time for New Canaan lacrosse.”

The Rams have been hit hard by injuries, and those players are due back. Buzzeo said he now will have an even deeper lineup, but also needs to find sufficient time to keep everyone happy. He talked about the Rams playing better fourth quarters on fresher legs.

On a day when assists were so important, Manges offered a verbal one afterward.

“All my goals were assisted,” Manges said. “I owe it to Chris Canet, Liam Griffiths, all the guys on attack, all the middies. This is not my game, it’s the team’s game, it’s the family’s game. Everyone who assisted, who dodged, who busted their ass to get me open. I was able to score luckily and we came up with the dub.”

The dub the Rams now want most of all is over the team that broke their hearts three times last season by a total of four goals.

“Darien is a very good team,” Manges said. “I respect them. Our losses in the past have given us more respect for them, but we’re not fearing them. We’re coming in there expecting to win.”

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