Darien tops Wilton for FCIAC girls lax 3-peat
Call it a "three-peat." Call it another piece of hardware in the trophy case.
Just don't call this three-year run by the Darien girls lacrosse team anything short of what it has come to deserve: unquestionably dominant.
Led by senior captains Hollis Perticone and Dillon Schoen, the Blue Wave (17-2) secured their third consecutive FCIAC championship Friday with a 9-7 victory over Wilton. Perticone netted four goals and recorded two assists while Schoen took home championship MVP honors. The duo scored a pair of critical goals with under 30 seconds left in the first half, extending Darien's lead then to 6-3, a gap the Warriors would never overcome.
Fellow senior captains Emily Stein and Ellie Bennett played well from start to finish, while Stein tallied one goal and a pair of assists.
"We executed when we had to and kept a cushion," Blue Wave coach Lisa Lindley said. "I think for Hollis, Dillon, Ellie and Emily, it shows that they're four-year starters. They're my captains and they definitely lead by example. And without them, we wouldn't have this."
Wilton (15-4) opened the game by converting a quick Darien turnover into a free position goal from Charlotte Noels, who finished with a hat trick. Following Noels' strike, Blue Wave draw specialist Katie Cronin won four straight faceoffs, setting the table for a pair of Perticone goals sandwiched around a score from Schoen.
Warriors coach Meredith Meyran immediately called for time, but it was to no avail. Cronin promptly won again inside the circle to set up a Stein goal that gave Darien a 4-1 lead with 19 minutes to play in the half.
"It was huge," Schoen said of her team's fast start. "Momentum is a really big part of lacrosse and to come away with that momentum, especially at the beginning of the game, was awesome. A huge part of that was winning the draws."
Over the ensuing eight minutes, Noels and Laura Knapp trimmed Wilton's deficit to one via two scores on the doorstep. Simultaneously, the Warriors bottled up the Blue Wave attack until the half's final moments, even as Lindley called for seven different offensive sets.
"I thought we were playing really good defense," Meyran said. "They worked really, really hard. We just couldn't covert on offense. We weren't patient, we had uncharacteristic turnovers and that's what hurt us."
With help from junior Caroline Benitez, Schoen delivered the first of two half-closing goals with 14 seconds to go. Then, set up by a penalty against Wilton goalie Hannah Wiltshire as she stood outside the crease, Perticone was able to fire and score on an open net with one second left.
The Blue Wave opened its largest lead of the game at 8-4 on a Mariah Matheis goal registered with 11:59 remaining. Cecily Freilich and Makenna Pearsall each chipped in with a late score for the Warriors, but not even a late yellow card could deny Darien another FCIAC title and perfect record against conference competition.
"I think this team had a lot of pressure on themselves because of our success last year," Lindley said. "And I think all year they wanted to make sure that they carried on the tradition. They set their own mark by beating the two Long Island teams, and when we made it into the finals here, they wanted to make sure they weren't the team that didn't come away with the championship."
The Blue Wave have now won 12 of the last 19 FCIAC girls lacrosse championships. Darien and Wilton have combined to win each of the last 11 titles.
DARIEN 9, WILTON 7
WILTON 3 4 --7
DARIEN 6 3 --9
Records: Wilton 15-4, Darien 17-2. Scoring: W-- Charlotte Noels 3 goals, Cecily Freilich 1g, Makenna Pearsall 1g, Shannon Quinlan 1g, Laura Knapp 1g, Sara Dickinson 1a; D-- Hollis Perticone 4 goals, 2 assists, Dillon Schoen 3g, Emily Stein 1g, 2a, Mariah Matheis 1g, Caroline Benitez 1a; Goalies: W--Hannah Wiltshire (10 saves); D--Kyra Gardner (6).
Highlights: W--Charlotte Noels tallied the first two Warriors goals and the final Wilton score for a hat trick. D--Seniors Hollis Perticone and Dillon Schoen combined for seven goals. The Blue Wave won the game's first five draws, leading to four of its first-half scores.