The Darien High girls lacrosse team continued its dominance over the rest of Connecticut by beating Wilton 15-10 last week for its 100th straight victory over in-state opponents.
Less than 48 hours later, however, a team from Virginia did what no team in the Nutmeg State has been able to do in over five years when St. Stephens & St. Agnes nipped the Blue Wave 13-12 in overtime.
It marked the end of what was clearly the most challenging week of the 2018 regular season for the DHS girls. In fact, on Thursday Darien trailed at halftime for the first time this season as Wilton took a 7-5 lead at the break before the Blue Wave outscored the Warriors 10-3 in the second half.
Then on Saturday, Darien traveled three and a half hours to Germantown, Pa., to battle highly touted St. Stephens/St. Agnes of Alexandria, Va., on a neutral field and the Blue Wave raced out to an early 4-0 lead.
But the Saints, 19-2 coming in and ranked No. 5 in the country, rallied to knot the score 7-7 at halftime, tie it again with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, and then win it in sudden-death overtime.
While the loss was disappointing, playing a team of that caliber prepares Darien for the upcoming postseason a week away. The Blue Wave, who played at Fairfield Warde on Tuesday, will close the regular season on Monday with a 4 p.m. home game against Fairfield Ludlowe. The FCIAC playoffs begin next Thursday.
“No doubt, that’s why you play these type of games,” coach Lisa Lindley agreed.
It’s also why Darien plays teams like Ridgewood, N.J., and Garden City, N.Y., and Manhasset of Long Island, which handed the 12-2 Blue Wave its only other loss this season by an identical 13-12 score two weeks ago.
“Like I said to the girls, it’s disappointing to outplay teams like Manhasset and St. Agnes and lose, but it teaches us we have to fix a few mistakes and learn as a team so we correct them.”
The Blue Wave certainly fixed some mistakes in its game against visiting Wilton, turning a two-goal halftime deficit into a five-goal victory.
“We were having issues getting draws along the circle,” Lindley explained. “But we made adjustments at halftime. Katie Ramsay did a better job (on faceoffs) and Sarah (Jaques) and Emma (Jaques) were being more aggressive on the circle and did a good job coming up with the ball which led to us getting more possessions. That was huge.”
Indeed, the second half was a different story as the Wave found the back of the cage 10 times.
Sarah Jaques, Ramsay and Ashley Humphrey all recorded hat tricks in the win, while Shea van den Broek and Maddie Joyce each scored twice. Goals by Kendall Wisinski and Kit Arrix, and assists from Christine Fiore and Nicole Humphrey rounded out the scoring.
Meanwhile, nine of Wilton’s 10 goals came from two players — Paisley Eagan with five and Sophie Sudano with four. Once again, Lindley’s “everyone contributes” team concept prevailed.
“That’s where Darien’s success comes from and will always come from as long as I’m the coach,” the seven-time Connecticut Coach of the Year, now in her 25th season, said. “I’ve never had one or two kids do all our scoring. We’re only as strong as everyone on the team. We win as a team and we lose as a team.”
Lately, the Blue Wave’s been doing a lot of winning, especially in its home state where they hit the century mark for consecutive wins against Wilton.
“It really means a lot to all of us to reach that number and get the monkey off our back,” Lindley said of the in-state winning streak. “It’s nice, but I would’ve much rather give that up to be in the win column against Manhasset and St. Agnes. I think we’re just as good a team as both of them, but unfortunately we didn’t take care of the ball when we needed to.”
The final stats against the Saints bear that out. Against Manhasset, Darien committed 34 fouls and 18 turnovers, while in Saturday’s loss to the Saints the Blue Wave was guilty of 13 fouls and 13 miscues.
“Those teams are just too good to make that many mistakes,” Lindley said.
On the bright side, there was no shortage of offense once again. Emma Jaques and Nicole Humphrey each scored hat tricks, while Fiore tallied two goals, Sarah Jaques had a goal and two assists, and Ramsay, Ashley Humphrey and Arrix also scored goals.
“Our girls just need to sustain a high level of play and limit our mistakes,” Lindley, with one eye on the upcoming postseason, concluded.