Darien beats Conard to reach Class L girls lacrosse championship
SOUTHINGTON -- After three quick scores had given Conard a two-goal lead early in the Class L girls' lacrosse semifinal, Darien coach Lisa Lindley called time out. Her message to her team? Settle down and play like champions.
Boy, did they.
The Blue Wave rallied back with six unanswered goals, opened up a commanding halftime lead and rolled to a 13-6 victory Wednesday afternoon at Southington High School, putting them in the CIAC championship game for the ninth time in 12 seasons. Talk about a dynasty.
"It never gets old," Lindley said after the game. "Now the pressure's is winning it ¦ again."
The Blue Wave (19-3), winners of nine straight and 17 of its last 18 games, advances into Saturday's Class L final against the Wilton-Simsbury winner at Bunnell at a time to be determined.
Conard ends its season at 15-4.
"We had a great season," Chieftains coach Megan Cersisimo said. "On paper, you look at us and go, `What?' But we had a lot of people step up this season and we got better and better every single game. They've been selfless all season long."
"That's always kind of been our strength, we have a lot of depth," Lindley said. "We have a lot of depth in our program. If someone's off I can pretty much sub someone else in and have them pick up the slack."
Darien took the initial faceoff and scored just 12 seconds into the game as Kirby motored down the middle of the field and beat Conard goaltender Lauren Scheid but the Chieftains answered with three goals over the next five minutes, two coming from Marisa Haverty, to grab a 3-1 and force Lindley to call a time out. But after that time out, Darien came out like a different team.
"We have a tendency to come out flat and to be honest, that's always been my worry," Lindley said. "We were down two players and I wanted to make sure we were organized on defense. Conard is a very good team, they play good D and early on, most of the play sets we were using, weren't working. We were standing still. I took the timeout to get them settled, make sure we were on the same page."
And once they were on the same page, the Blue Wave put the hammer down, holding Conard scoreless for the last 18:12 of the half.
"They increased their tempo, the tempo of their ball movement, the tempo of getting to ground balls and 50-50 balls," Cersisimo said. "Anytime you play a team as strong as Darien, you have to possess the ball to have a chance to win the game. When they started to possess the ball, I felt our defense did a great job, our goalie did a great job. It could have been a lot worse."
Darien scored the last six goals of the half to take a 7-3 halftime lead. Kirby, Laura Murphy, Kaeleigh Morrill, Gabriella Noto, Anna Morehead and Mariah Matheis beat Scheid as Darien took the momentum and literally, ran with it, adding six more goals in the second half to win going away.
"We wore them down with our speed in the midfield," Lindley said. "Our speed and our experience were key."
DARIEN 13, CONARD 6
CONARD 3 3--6
DARIEN 7 6--13
Records: D 19-3, C 15-4
Scoring: C--Michelle Rodgers (1g), Tessa Sinatro (2g), Marisa Haverty (2g), Sarah Mahon (1g). D--Chandler Kirby (2g, 2a), Kaeleigh Morrill (2g), Emma Lesko (1g), Mariah Matheis (1g), Katherine Cronin (2g), Laura Murphy (1g, 2a), Anna Morehead (1g), Gabriella Noto (3g).
Goaltenders: D--Samantha Nielsen (7 saves), C--Lauren Scheid (13 saves)
Shots on goal: D 34, C 14