Darien routs Greenwich for Class L state championship
STRATFORD -- Lisa Lindley has coached some great teams since taking over the varsity lacrosse program at Darien High School in 1994. Yet as Lindley exited Bunnell High School Saturday following the Class L final, she didn't hesitate to put her 2013 Blue Wave team in a distinct category.
"This is my best team ever," Lindley said. "They are incredibly special in a sense that player for player, position for position, there is really no weakness."
Watching the Blue Wave Saturday, no one would disagree.
Second-seeded Darien put the finishing touch on its dominant season by putting on a clinic Saturday against fourth-seeded Greenwich, cruising to an 18-6 victory in the championship game of the CIAC Class L Tournament at Bunnell High School.
The win gave the Blue Wave (21-1) their 12th state title overall and marked the eighth time they have won both the FCIAC and state championship in the same season. After falling to New Canaan in last year's Class M quarterfinals (this was Darien's first season in Class L) the Blue Wave came back with a vengeance.
"We haven't accomplished this since I've been here -- winning FCIACs and states in one season -- to be the underdog at the beginning of the season and come back and win it after losing to New Canaan early in states last year says a lot about our team," said Darien senior attack Kristy Gilbert, who scored two goals.
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Said Lindley: "We talked all week about getting that 12th state title. I am most proud of the fact that these kids put their personal agendas aside and worked together to accomplish a team goal."
Greenwich (17-5) saw its two-year reign as Class L champions come to an end.
"At the beginning of the season, people weren't considering us as a contender because we lost so many good players from last year, but we fought all the way to the No. 2 spot," Cardinals coach Caitlin Keane said. "We can still say we were here in the finals the last four years."
Junior attack Emily Stein tallied six times, while senior attack Taylor Hardison registered three goals and five assists and junior Dillon Schoen had two goals and two assists for Darien. Senior attack Emma Christie scored twice and senior midfielder Emily Johnson had one goal and one assist for the Cardinals, who trailed 10-5 at halftime.
Junior Hollis Perticone scored the game's first goal, dodging a defender before unleashing a shot from close in past GHS sophomore goalie Kylie Ginsberg 3:02 into the first half. Stein set Hardison up for the Blue Wave's next goal, then scored at the 21:08 mark, giving her team a 3-0 edge. After Gilbert scored, giving Darien a 4-0 advantage, Christie put the Cardinals on the scoreboard, converting a free position attempt with 18:14 to go in the opening half.
"We used quick ball movement and we were executing the plays we worked on in practice," Stein said. "We also took advantage of our fastbreak from winning the draw and receiving the ball up field from our defense."
"We didn't come out as strong as we hoped," Keane said. "We were throwing the ball away -- I don't know if nerves got the best of us. Normally we are known for what we do on attack. I would say 90 percent of the time the ball was on their end of the field, so you can't win a game that way. But we ended the game on a positive note."
Said Christie: "It was frustrating, but we tried to play our best last 25 minutes in the second half. They just came out as the better team. Even though we lost, we still made it here four years in a row and I couldn't have asked for a better group of girls to be teammates with."
Behind two goals from Stein and two from senior Jena Fritts, the Blue Wave outscored GHS 8-0 the second half before Goggin's last-minute tally.
"Our team knew Greenwich had the potential to come back and beat us, but our hearts and minds were in this game," Fritts said. "We got the ground balls and draws and fought really hard."
Senior goalie Caylee Waters made six saves for the Blue Wave, who were led defensively by Hollis Perticone, Vanessa Budd, Lauren Pryor, Jackie Brokaw and Ellie Bennett. Ginsberg made six saves, before giving way to Caroline Schultz (eight saves).
"As a senior, winning the FCIAC and state titles is all you could ask for," Hardison said. "Our loss to New Canaan last year fired us up and we went out and had the best season I've ever had at Darien High School.
Darien 18, Greenwich 6
GREENWICH 5 1 -- 6
DARIEN 10 8 -- 18
Records: Darien 21-1; Greenwich 17-5.
Scoring: G -- Emma Christie 2 g; Emily Johnson 1 g, 1 a; Sarah Rider 1 g; Jenny Goggin 1 g; Meghan Collins 1 g; D -- Emily Stein 6 g, 1 a; Taylor Hardison 3 g, 5 a; Jena Fritts 2 g; Kristy Gilbert 2 g; Dillon Schoen 2 g, 2 a; Hollis Perticone 1 g; Caroline Benitez 1 g; Mariah Matheis 1 g; Vanessa Budd 1 a. Goalies: G -- Kylie Ginsberg (6 saves), Caroline Schultz (8 saves); D -- Caylee Waters (6 saves).