A hat trick came naturally to New Canaan’s Marlee Smith during the Rams’ field hockey matchup against Greenwich on Saturday.
Smith, a senior, recorded a natural hat trick in the first half for New Canaan, which was more than enough to register its second straight win to start the season — a 4-0 triumph over Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium.
New Canaan (2-0), which began its season with a 3-2 overtime win over FCIAC West Region rival Darien on Thursday, received two assists from senior Anna Lindeis and eight saves from goalie Megan Lydon.
The Rams tallied twice in the first quarter and once in the second to enter halftime with a 3-0 advantage.
“We talk a lot about how the team that controls the time of possession generally results in a good outcome,” New Canaan coach Mary Clare Snediker said. “So we try to possess the ball in the middle of the field with good give-and-goes, inside-out passing and I thought we did a good job of that today, this early in the season with some new faces out there.”
The game was the season-opener for Greenwich, which like New Canaan, wore masks while they were on the sideline and practiced social distancing. Senior goalie Jorja Pastore made 12 saves for the Cardinals, who were forced to play a lot of defense.
“They are super aggressive, they stay nice and low and they just put immediate pressure on the ball,” GHS coach Megan Wax said of New Canaan. “There was no hesitation at all, they are a go, go, go team. They were able to keep that up the whole game.”
The Rams took a 1-0 lead with 13:10 remaining in the first quarter on Smith’s goal off an assist from sophomore Shawna Ferraro. At the 1:25 mark of the opening quarter, Smith struck again, this time scoring off a penalty corner. Lindeis assisted on the goal, which saw Smith earn the goal off a scramble in front of the cage.
“I can’t take all the credit,” Smith said. “I think all of us together worked so well, we were all so unified. We had some great passes up-and-down field and we had some great assists. I was just the one that hit it in the net.”
Smith completed her natural hat trick with 3:57 left in the second quarter. Pastore came out high to retrieve the ball and Smith got her stick on it first and drove it inside the left post, making it 3-0.
“We knew this was going to be a challenging game,” Smith said. “We just never let our head down and worked hard the entire game.”
The Cardinals drew several penalty corners early in the third quarter, but couldn’t cut into the Rams’ lead. Senior Agustina Ferrario registered a pair of shots on goal, as did Kathryn O’Donnell for Greenwich, which raised their aggression in the second half.
“It took us a little bit of the first quarter to follow the movement of the ball,” Ferrario said. “They were beating us to every single ball. But the other quarters we improved our aggression. The third quarter we hada lot of corners and energy. It was our first game, so our energy got better throughout the game.”
The Rams and Cardinals will meet twice more this fall.
“I am definitely happy that we are playing them again, because we definitely can do better,” Ferrario said. “We saw what level we have to be playing at.”
Junior Carolyn Baran sealed the scoring for New Canaan, scoring off a penalty corner. Lindeis notched her second assist on the play, which occurred with 4:36 remaining in the final quarter.
“I am very happy with how we are doing those corners early in the season,” said Snediker who credited the defensive work of junior Keira Cooney. “We work a lot on those, so it’s nice to see it translate from practice to a game situation.”
Greenwich plays Westhill on Wednesday, New Canaan faces Westhill on Friday.
“This was our first game, we haven’t had any scrimmages,” Wax said. “So it is learning curve for us. We had kids in new positions and we new chemistry that needs to be built.”
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