Throughout the years, Darien High School's girls' lacrosse team has been among the best in the FCIAC and state. Coming off a campaign in which the Blue Wave went 12-3, then reached the semifinal round of the Division I State Tournament, expectations might be changing a bit after Darien lost a bulk of its starters to graduation.

Senior captain Emma Getsinger, a defender, along with attack player Ellie Bullitt return, as do goaltenders Claire Dickson and Caylee Waters. The rest of the lineup is fairly young and inexperienced.

"We're excited -- the coaching staff is excited," head coach Lisa Lindley said. "This is a different team because we have a lot of very talented girls but they're very inexperienced. I've lost 19 seniors in the last two years."

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Lindley looks at this campaign as one in which the younger players can step up and earn starting roles and gain valuable experience for the future. In addition to the usual tough FCIAC foes, such as Wilton, New Canaan and Greenwich, the Wave will face some non-conference and out-of-state teams such as Garden City and Farmingdale of New York.

"We have a really, really hard schedule this year so I don't anticipate winning more than half our games. If we do, I think that's a bonus," Lindley said. "I think playing those harder opponents will help us be ready for the postseason."

The Darien High coach wants her up-and-coming players to learn the systems on offense and defense, and improve as the season unfolds.

"And hopefully we'll surprise one of those stronger teams and come away with a win," she added.

Given the loss of so many key players to graduation, Lindley believes her team is one year away from again being considered one of the elite squads in the FCIAC, but her players feel differently from the get-go.

"I'm really pumped. I think our team is looking really good," said senior captain Getsinger, adding that the team is excited to play strong foes including New Canaan and Wilton High School.

"The Darien program has a big reputation and we all have the desire to win and uphold that reputation," senior captain and defender Emma Tuzinkiewicz added. "We've been having great practices. Everybody's been hustling to every ball. I think we're going to have a great season."

The Blue Wave opened the campaign with a tough 11-10 loss to one of those New York teams, Suffern, on April 9. Following the always enticing April 13 scheduled clash with rival New Canaan High, the Wave will host Loomis Chaffee School on April 16 and visit Manhassett of New York two days later before a big April 21 battle in Wilton as the team then gets into more conference play.

The Blue Wave will host Greenwich on April 23. After visiting Fairfield Warde on April 28 and hosting Garden City, N.Y. on April 28, the team plays the next four on the road before returning home to close out the season with four consecutive home games.