By Rich DePreta
NEW CANAAN — Lacrosse can be a simple game.
Possess the ball control the contest.
Win the faceoff, possess the ball.
The Blue Wave almost never allowed Greenwich High to hold the ball. And the result was a 19-8 Darien triumph in the FCIAC semifinals at New Canaan’s Dunning Stadium.
The win means No. 1 Darien (16-2) will face No. 2 Wilton for the FCIAC title on Friday at 4 p.m. at Brien McMahon High. Wilton ousted No. 3 New Canaan, 11-5 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
“We’re happy to have advanced to the finals,” said Darien head coach Lisa Lindley. “But our goal all season long has been to win the FCIAC title. Wilton will be a tough opponent.”
Darien conquered Greenwich (10-8) by dominating the faceoff circle.
Darien faceoff specialist Katie Cronin and Hollis Perticone won 11 of 14 faceoffs in the first half, 15 of the opening 19 faceoffs and 18 of 26 faceoffs overall in the contest.
“You need possession of the ball to win,” Greenwich coach Caitlin Keane said. “We simply didn’t get the draws.”
“Katie (Cronin) has developed her faceoff talent. Hollis Perticone has been doing this for four years,” Lindley said. “We didn’t a much better job at faceoffs than we did when we faced Greenwich in the regular season (a 17-15 Blue Wave win on May 3).”
From a 2-2 tie, Darien scored six straight goals for 8-2 midway through the first half. The lead was 10-4 at halftime and 14-4 with 14:38 left to play.
While Greenwich goalie Kylie Ginsberg registered nine saves, the Cardinals couldn’t foil the balance of the Darien offense.
Emily Stein paced the Blue Wave with four goals and two assists. Dillon Schoen, Gabriela Noto and Perticone all contributed three goals and two assists. Mariah Matheis finished with three goals and Caroline Benitez on fresh legs tallied twice in the closing minutes.
The Greenwich attack was stymied by the physicality and wingspan of the Darien defense.
Hannah Koorbusch scored four goals while Carolyn Paletta tallied twice for GHS as Darien goalie Kyra Gardner made seven saves.
“Darien’s defense is physically strong. Our offense wasn’t fluid,” GHS’ Keane said. “We made some poor choices and decisions.”
“Our defense was strong even though we didn’t win a lot of ground balls,” Lindley said. “What we did differently from our first meeting was we used a zone defense. That worked well.”
And so, Darien is exactly where it wants to be. In the FCIAC final looking for its third straight championship and ninth crown since 2000.
Greenwich will get a short respite to regroup for the state tournament. Where it could run into Darien yet again.
Darien 19, Greenwich 8
GREENWICH4 4 —8
DARIEN10 9 —19
Records: Greenwich 10-8 overall; Darien 16-2 overall.
Scoring: G — Hannah Koorbusch. 4 goals; Grace Paletta.1g; Carolyn Paletta 2g; Madeline Graves 1g; Paige Mautner 1 assist. D — Mariah Matheis 3g, 1a; Dillon Schoen 3g, 2a; Hollis Perticone 3g, 2a; Emily Stein 4g, 2a; Gabriela Noto 3g, 2a; Anna Moorhead 1g; Caroline Benitez 2g. Goalies: G — Kylie Ginsberg (9 saves). D — Kyra Gardner (7 saves).
Highlights: D — Darien will meet Wilton for FCIAC title Friday at 4 p.m. at McMahon High. Darien’s Katie Cronin and Hollis Perticone won 18 of 26 faceoffs including 15 of first 19.