Darien girls coach Lisa Lindley enters National Lacrosse Hall of Fame

The achievements of the Darien girls lacrosse program under coach Lisa Lindley are, simply put, mind-boggling.

Since 1994, there are 18 state championships, including eight in the last nine seasons, 18 FCIAC titles, and an overall record of 456-88-6, which equates to a winning percentage of .843.

Those numbers are great, but Lindley said she didn’t get into coaching for the championships or awards.

“It really was to give back to the sport that has meant so much to me in terms of opportunities, memories and friendships,” Lindley said.

The winning has followed.

Lindley, a collegiate All-American at UMass and player on the 1989 US World Cup championship team, was celebrated when she was formally inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame Saturday at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, Md.

Lindley said the night was like being at the Emmy Awards ceremony.

“It was everything and more than I anticipated,” Lindley said. “You’re among lacrosse royalty. I had my ’89 World Cup coach there and my assistant coach there, so it was pretty special.”

The latest class of inductees included three coaches, three players and two officials. The group is officially the Class of 2020, as it was announced in May, 2020, but the ceremony wasn’t held last fall due to the pandemic.

Each inductee had a presenter, and Lindley’s was Hall of Famer Cindy Timchal, who has coached college women’s lacrosse for 40 years at Maryland, Northwestern and now Navy, and has won eight National championships.

Lindley called Timshal “the GOAT” of women’s lacrosse.

Lindley, who became the head coach of the Blue Wave program in 1994, had previously been inducted into the halls of fame for the US Lacrosse Connecticut Chapter (2014), UMass (2016), and FCIAC (2019).

She has coached nearly 80 US Lacrosse All-America players and more than 100 All-State players.

During her induction speech, Lindley told a story about her first state championship in 1995.

That season, Darien was facing rival New Canaan for the title and trailed by eight goals at halftime.

“I’m doing my halftime speech and the kids aren’t paying attention to me, so they point behind me and the New Canaan parents had gone out and bought six or seven dozen roses, thinking they were going to win the game,” Lindley said. “I went into a motivating speech and then the girls tied it up and brought it into overtime.”

In overtime, Lindley called a time out and asked her players a question: “Is there anyone on this team that can score?”

“This freshman raised her hand and said ‘I can do it coach’,” Lindley said. “She hadn’t been in the game all day, but I put her in, she got the ball and scored and we won.”

That player was Katie Simpson, who went on to become an All-American for Darien and Middlebury College, one of numerous Wave players who have achieved success at the next level.

“It’s part of my legacy and I’m very, very proud of all of them,” Lindley said “Our culture and our success has bred the situation where these kids are coming through and continuing (in college). It’s been great.”

While the victories and honors have been plentiful, Lindley said her focus has been on coaching the kids to be a team.

“To teach the kids what was taught to me when I played, which is the importance of teamwork, communication, and loyalty,” she said. “Accomplishing things as a team is much greater than anything you can accomplish as an individual.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports