Blue Wave girls lax upset by Greenwich in state semis
Published 4:07 pm, Thursday, June 10, 2010
FAIRFIELD -- Senior tri-captain Sarah Kramer has enjoyed a wealth of winning moments over the years as a member of the Greenwich High School girls lacrosse team. Yet entering Wednesday night's much-anticipated state semifinal against Darien, Kramer had never experienced the thrill of defeating the always tough Blue Wave.
That all changed in a big way for Kramer and the high-flying Cardinals.
Kramer and senior Storm Kodde each recorded a hat trick, while junior Emily D'Erasmo and sophomore Tori Dunster tallied two goals apiece to propel fifth-seeded Greenwich to an 11-9 triumph over eighth-seeded, arch-rival Darien in the Division I semifinals at rain soaked Fairfield Warde High School.
The Cardinals (16-3), who posted their first victory against Darien since 2005, earned a berth in the championship game of the LL tournament, where they will face New Canaan. The title tilt between the Cardinals and Rams will take place at Stratford's Bunnell High School on Saturday at 1 p.m.
"The last time we beat them was when I was in eighth grade, so this feels good," said Kramer, whose older sister Emma was on the 2005 squad that defeated Darien. "We had one more chance at them and we pulled it out. I have never seen this team run so hard and play so well as a unit."
Darien, which captured the Division I crown a year ago and was unbeaten in its last nine meetings against Greenwich going into Wednesday's matchup, received four goals from senior Anne Fucigna and two each from senior Cali Ceglarski and freshman Kristen Gilbert. The Blue Wave, who fell to Wilton in overtime of the FCIAC finals, finished the season at 15-5.
"Greenwich capitalized on their shots and we didn't," Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. "We had plenty of chances to tie the game up and actually go ahead, but we didn't capitalize on our chances."
After Fucigna's goal off a free position attempt knotted the score at 9-9 with 5:19 remaining in the second half, the Cards took the lead for good at the 4:14 mark courtesy of Kramer. Sprinting down the right side of the field with the ball, Kramer put a low shot past Darien goalie Kaylie Waters, making it a 10-9 game.
The Blue Wave, who edged the Cardinals 15-13 on April 20, almost scored the equalizer, but a shot during the final two minutes hit the post. Meanwhile, GHS took an all-important two-goal advantage when Kramer tallied from close in with just 1:48 left showing on the clock. Greenwich then went into a stall after that effectively ate precious seconds off the clock.
Both goalies kept their respective teams in the game, with Waters stopping 13 shots and Cardinals senior tri-captain Kaitlin Bedford 12.
"Kaitlin's saves in the second half were awesome," Cardinals first-year coach Caitlin Keane said. "I'm so proud of our team, they have shown so much heart. Our speed helped us in this game -- overall, it was a phenomenal effort."
Trailing 5-3 at intermission, Greenwich's Kodde scored two consecutive goals to knot the score at 5-5 3:44 into the second half. Gilbert's transition goal and Corinne Sommi's goal off a free position attempt put the Blue Wave back in front at 7-5 at the 13:45 mark.
But Dunster tallied on a fastbreak and sophomore Shannon Colligan converted a pretty feed in traffic from D'Erasmo, evening the score once again with 9:40 still left to play.
Gilbert put the Blue Wave in the lead again with 9:28 to go, but Darien's advantage was short lived, as D'Erasmo scored in transition off the ensuing draw 40 seconds later, making the score 8-8.
"We just wanted to stay cool, calm and collected, even when they had the lead," said Kodde, who has scored clutch goals the past three games for GHS. "We knew we could beat them. They are a great team, but our speed is what carried us through -- especially in the second half. We also made some very smart decisions with the ball."
Said Dunster: "We haven't beaten them since 2005, so we have been waiting for an opportunity to play them again. We feel like no one can stop us now."
The Blue Wave, who last played the Cardinals in the state tournament in 2007, seized a 5-1 edge in the first half when Fucigna tallied off a pass from Paige Gasparino with 7:33 left. However, goals from D'Erasmo and Kramer, cut Darien's lead to 5-3 and gave the Cards some momentum heading into halftime. Though ahead, Lindley believes her squad could have had a bigger lead at the half.
"I thought our defense played well tonight and my goalie was outstanding," Lindley noted. "But offensively, we picked the wrong time to have an off game. It was a great season though and I wish Greenwich all the best. They are young, quick and athletic and should give New Canaan a good game."
Fucigna and Ceglarski scored two goals apiece in the opening half for Darien, which had lost only one game in the state entering Wednesday night's action. Greenwich, meanwhile, turns its attention to New Canaan. The Rams have defeated the Cardinals twice this season, including a victory in the FCIAC semifinals.
"Now I have to think about New Canaan again," Keane said. "I guess the third time is the charm right?"