Get ready for Darien vs. New Canaan, round three.
The two girls lacrosse rivals punched their tickets to the CIAC Class L championship game with semifinal victories at Brien McMahon’s Jack Casagrande Field in Norwalk on Monday night.
In the first semifinal, Darien received six goals and two assists from Ashley Humphrey and a hat trick from Sarah Jaques en route to a 16-9 win over the Wilton Warriors.
In the night cap, ninth-seeded Ridgefield led New Canaan 4-3 at halftime, but the Rams scored the first three goals of the second half and went on to win 8-5. Kendall Patten led New Canaan with a hat trick and Campbell Connors had two goals.
The results set up a third meeting between fourth-seeded New Canaan (18-4) and No. 2 Darien (20-2), who will play in the Class L final on Saturday at Jonathan Law High School in Milford at a time to be determined. The two rivals have been the top-ranked teams in the Connecticut Coaches Poll since the preseason.
Darien has won both meetings with New Canaan this season: 11-10 during the regular season and then 12-7 in the FCIAC final two weeks ago.
But the Wave is still looking to avenge a loss to the Rams in last year’s Class L semifinals, a defeat which ended Darien’s five-year reign as state champs. New Canaan went on to beat Ridgefield 19-7 for the Class L title.
Beating Wilton in the semis on the same field where they were eliminated last year was meaningful for the Wave
“Our memories from this field last year aren’t great, so we’re happy to have a different outcome this year,” Humphrey said. “We’re definitely looking forward to the state final now.”
While the finals were within sight, the Wave still had to get past a Wilton squad it had already faced twice this season. Darien won both games, including a 19-9 rout in the FCIAC semifinals, but the first meeting was a close one at 10-8.
“We’ve been talking about how it’s really hard to beat a team a third time,” Darien senior co-captain Katie Elders said. “So this was a special win for us.”
Head coach Lisa Lindley said the game plan was simple.
“It was to stick to what we were successful doing all year, and against them, which is getting the draw,” Lindley said. “Charlotte Wittstock did an outstanding job for us and won most of the draws around the circle. The other thing was moving the ball offense and recognizing when you have your one-on-one opportunities and we did a good job on that.”
Wilton had early leads at 1-0 and 2-1 after goals from Olivia Gladstein and Taylor LaMantia, but Darien took over when Humphrey scored three times in a span of two minutes. After the Warriors scored to make it 4-3, Shea van den Broek and Maddie Joyce scored twice before halftime, igniting a run of six unanswered goals which eventually made it a 10-3 game with 16:50 remaining.
“We were nervous early and we were a little careless with the ball, but once we got a couple of goals up, we really settled in,” Humphrey said. “We worked the ball around and converted on our shots.”
“Two of the things we focused on were being aggressive and using our speed in the midfield,” Elders said. “We have the prowess on offense and defense, but getting that transition down is what we needed to do. We really worked on talking more on defense and running the play more cleanly on offense, which we were able to do today.”
Wilton’s Carly Sullivan scored twice to cut the deficit to five goals, but the Warriors would get no closer as Darien went on outscored them 6-4 the rest of the way.
In addition to the goals from Humphrey and Jaques, the Wave also had two goals apiece from Van den Broek and Joyce, and one each from Elders, Jordan Vaught and Kit Arrix.
With one game to play against their rivals, no one is easing off the pedal.
“We’re not settling down,” Elders said. “We’re going to keep working hard, keep the momentum going because we want that state championship more than anything.”
DARIEN 16, WILTON 9
Wilton 3 6 – 9
Darien 6 10 – 16
Wilton: Carly Sullivan 4g; Sophia Sudano 3g; Olivia Gladstein 1g; Taylor LaMantia 1g; Darien: Ashley Humphrey 6g, 2a; Sarah Jaques 3g; Shea van den Broek 2g, 1a; Maddie Joyce 2g; Katie Elders 1g; Jordan Vaught 1g; Kit Arrix 1g; Goalies: W – Bridgette Wall 5 saves, Tate Paulson 1 save; D – Shea Dolce 4 saves; Records: Wilton 13-8; Darien 20-2