Darien laxwomen roll into postseason with confidence
Darien High School's girls' lacrosse team may only be the fourth seed among eight teams in the upcoming FCIAC Tournament, but the Blue Wave believes they have as good of a shot as anyone. And the players have a few things going for them: Momentum (winners of five straight games to close out the regular season), a proven ability to beat at least some one of the teams ahead of them in the standings and hunger after dropping a tough overtime decision to another of those better-seeded rivals.
The Blue Wave ended the regular season with an easy 17-0 win over visiting Westhill of Stamford on Tuesday to cap the season with a 9-7 overall record -- a deceptive mark given the fact Darien lost two overtime games to conference foes and the other five setbacks were all against out-of-conference opponents, including some New York powerhouses.
The Blue Wave are a perennial conference and state powerhouse, but this year's team came into the campaign with plenty of question marks following the graduation of most of last year's lineup. But this year's version of the Wave believe they can win when it counts.
"I think we have a very good chance. I have a lot of a confidence in us. I think we have a really strong team this year," Cat Lincoln said.
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"I think we're peaking at the right time. I think we're playing well as a team," Darien coach Lisa Lindley added.
Although the Wave have plenty of reason to believe they can reach the pinnacle, the team enters into the playoffs with cautious optimism. Darien will open up conference tourney play against No. 5 Fairfield Ludlowe, a team it beat 13-7 during the regular season. Lindley pointed out that the Wave faced two Ludlowe goaltenders, one of whom they somewhat struggled to put the ball past.
"I think we're going to have a tough match against Ludlowe," Lindley said.
With a victory, Darien will face the winner of the matchup between top-seeded Staples of Westport and No. 8 Ridgefield, a pair of schools Darien did not face in the regular season. Darien beat No. 2 New Canaan, handing the Rams their only conference loss, and fell in overtime to third-seeded Wilton.
Wave player Caroline Zaffino said that in order for her team to succeed, the players need to apply what they work on in practice, including moving the ball well in transition and defending opponents well on both ends of the field.
Lindley said the team needs to communicate much better on defense than it has, and is looking for the offense and goaltending to continue to play well.
"We need to finish our shots, we need to be very strong on defense, and we need to play strong in goal," the coach said.
The team used its last game as a practice of sorts. After building an 11-0 lead by halftime, the Wave slowed things down and moved the ball around, at times bringing the ball back deep to its end of the field to work on breakouts. Lindley was able to rest some players who needed a little time to get healthy before the start of tournament play and was pleased with how her team performed.
"I think the kids that were in passed the ball very effectively, which is not an easy thing to do when you're told not to shoot at different points in the game," Lindley said.
"We moved the ball really well and we worked well as a team," said Amanda Sommi, who led the way with four goals and three assists.
"I think it was good that we involved everyone on the field," added Carley Renaud, who had four goals of her own in the triumph.
Now, it's off the postseason.
"We're really excited to see some of the teams we've already played," Sommi said.
"And get revenge," Renaud added.