By Richard Gregory


NEWTOWN -- The Newtown High girls lacrosse team gave perennial powerhouse Darien all it could handle in the quarterfinals of the Division I state tournament on Monday.

In the end, however, Darien had too much firepower, as the three-time defending state champions pulled away for a 19-12 victory. Liz Calby scored eight goals and assisted on two others to lead the eighth-seeded Blue Wave, which will face fifth-seeded Greenwich on Wednesday in the semifinals.

Darien out-scored Newtown 11-4 in the second half after the teams finished the first half tied.

"The offense pretty much stayed the same; the defense really, really turned it around," Calby said of the Blue Wave's second-half surge. "They were incredible in the second half."

It was a tough end to a triumphant season for top-seeded Newtown, which rallied to tie the score 8-8 at halftime and led by a goal early in the second half. The Wave took the lead for good on Calby's unassisted goal with 12:29 remaining. Cali Ceglarski scored three minutes later to put Darien up by two. Newtown's Katie Canavan answered with a free-position goal with 7:37 remaining to make it a one-goal game, but Darien netted six unanswered goals to pull away late.

"I was just so proud of our effort," Newtown coach Maura Fletcher said. "We really had nothing to lose today. I told the girls to just lay it all out on the line today. We did a really good job of giving them a run for their money."

Lisa Vendel led the Nighthawks' attack with four goals and two assists. She missed the final seven minutes of the game after receiving her second yellow card of the game.

Darien freshman goalie Kaylie Waters made six saves to seal the win.

"Kaylie's really stepped up in the big games, which is really good news going forward for our program to have a freshman who can step up in big games," Calby said.

Newtown sophomore goalie Celeste Cheung was equally as impressive at the other end and made seven saves, including five in the second half as Newtown continued to hang with Darien.