Girl blow out Cheshire in 1st round of states

An early exit in the FCIACs last week gave each person -- coach and player alike ­-- time to stew.

Time to let the feeling of defeat in a postseason game sink and an occupy their minds for seven long days.

And in its opening-round Division I game of the state tournament last Thursday afternoon, Darien unleashed its lingering anger from the triple-overtime loss to Wilton in the FCIACs on a Cheshire team that was clearly overwhelmed two minutes in.

The eighth-seeded Blue Wave (13-3) demolished the No. 9 Rams 21-4 at Darien High, setting up a quarterfinal with top-seeded Newtown Monday afternoon at Newtown.

"I think everyone wanted to come out and actually do well," head coach Lisa Lindley said. "We switched a couple things around. Players know they have to earn their position in practice; it's not a foregone conclusion who's going to be starting on any given day."

Chances are good that Cali Ceglarski will continue to hold on to the starting role she's occupied this season in. The Darien senior led all scorers with six goals, including four in a row from the 7:43 to the 4:04 mark in the first half that bloated the Blue Wave lead to 13-1.

"I think everyone took the (Wilton) loss really hard and it made everyone a little more pumped for practice," Ceglarski said. "It was upsetting but it made us push ourselves a little harder."

There was no lag time for Darien in this one. Ceglarski admitted the team "cooled back and stepped off" its game against Wilton, but the only time the brakes were applied against the Rams were in the final seconds of each half. Cheshire managed two shots on Darien in the first half and won only one draw -- just what Lindley prepped for.

"I looked at the game film and the areas we were particularly week in, and one area was the draws," Lindley said. "I needed to switch up the people around the circle. ... Our defense was weak. I changed it around a little bit, too."

Liz Calby, who scored one goal and had five assists, four of which came on Ceglarski goals, said things ramped up the in the past few days.

"The practices were definitely hard, we were working on the things we'd done wrong," Calby said.

The Blue Wave also got multi-goal performances from Catherine Lincoln (four), Ann Fucigna (three) and Ellie Bullit (two). The Blue Wave's longest scoring drought lasted from 5:25 and was at the end of the second half.

Lindley said she'd only faced a situation like this -- an early exit from the FCIAC and a week-long layoff until states play -- two, maybe three times in her coaching career. The rigorous practices enforced her new thesis that Darien lacrosse doesn't promise positions to anyone, even this late in the season.

That preaching paid off just as much with the bench as it did the starters.

"For the first time all year, when we subbed, there wasn't a huge drop-off," Lindley said.

And the subs played the majority of the second half, while Cheshire continued to keep its starters on the field for the majority of the game.

"We came out wanting to prove our game," Calby said. "Today was our first opportunity to show that. Every game matters at this point."

Now another uneven break in the season, as it will be four days before Darien can go full speed again. Due to its three losses to out-of-state opponents, Darien was forced to be seeded lower than it likely should be; few teams in Connecticut challenge themselves the way Darien does. When a few losses come each year, a misleading seeding like this it to be expected, Lindley said.

"At this point I'm used to not being ranked correctly, but the way I look at it is, everyone's going to have to play us eventually," she said. "So whether we're first, eighth, 10th, I don't care. Yeah, it's hard because we have to go to Newtown -- ­I think that's difficult -- but as long as we play there like we did today, I'm confident that we'll win. I'm using it as motivation for the girls that if we beat Newtown, we're going to face Greenwich in the [next] bracket."

Coming off such a rare FCIAC loss last week, it appears the team needs no other motivation for its state run -- but will use anything it can to prove losing in the postseason is a fluke.