Darien girls lacrosse team defeats Warde for fourth straight Class L title
MILFORD — When the buzzer sounded concluding Saturday’s Class L Girls Lacrosse Tournament final, a championship legacy was completed by the Darien High School seniors — a group that doesn’t know what it’s like to end a season without championship medals around their necks.
The Blue Wave seniors needed one more win to put the exclamation mark on four years of greatness. And after 50 minutes of their usual impressive play, their final triumph was celebrated and will no doubt, be remembered.
Top-seeded Darien continued its reign of supremacy, winning the CIAC Class L Tournament championship for the fourth consecutive season with a convincing 12-5 victory over sixth-seeded Fairfield Warde Saturday at Jonathan Law High School.
How’s this for leaving a legacy? Each of the 10 seniors Darien’s squad has been a part of four state and FCIAC title-winning teams.
“It feels amazing, I’m so happy to have done it for four years,” Blue Wave senior midfielder/tri-captain Chandler Kirby said. “We have a saying, ‘tradition never graduates.’ We have this great program, where the upperclassmen show the underclassmen what this program is all about. You get something from being on this team that you don’t get anywhere else.”
Said Darien coach Lisa Lindley: “These seniors are amazing. They accomplished a lot — four league championships, four state championships — that’s really impressive. Not only were they good athletes, they were good kids and an unselfish group, which certainly helped us.”
Senior attack Susannah Ropp scored a team-high four goals, while junior midfielder Laura Murphy recorded a hat trick for the Blue Wave, who entered halftime with a 9-2 lead. Kirby and Kaeleigh Morrill scored two goals apiece for Darien (21-1-1).
The four-time defending state champions capped the season by winning their last 13 games and were unbeaten against Connecticut competition.
The Mustangs, who made their first appearance in the state championship game, were paced by sophomore midfielder Libby McKenna’s four goals.
“We really wanted to upset Darien and we were all working hard to be the team that beat the big team,” McKenna said. “We tried our hardest, but it didn’t work out that way. This is a young team and we feel we can make it to the finals again next year and the year after that. It’s a process.”
“We worked so hard this year to get this title,” Murphy said. “We all wanted our seniors to get four titles in a row, so it feels so good to help them get it. Warde showed up and gave a big effort, but we were able to finish our shots and get it in goal.”
McKenna went low with her shot with 20:23 left to go in the first half, bringing the Mustangs to within 2-1. But after Darien won the ensuing draw, Kirby tallied in transition, putting the top-seeded team in front, 3-1, with 20:02 to play in the opening half.
Ropp and senior midfielder Katie Cronin each converted free position attempts, Kirby scored off a set play, Murphy buried her free position shot and Morrill picked up a ground ball and tallied as the buzzer sounded, making it 9-2 at intermission.
“They picked apart our defense in the first half, but the second half we changed a few things,” Mustangs coach Tom Davis said. “We were able to come through and stop them, so they had to go to something else. It was a chess match the whole way.”
Behind junior goalie Carly Schoudel (eight saves), the Blue Wave were strong defensively throughout.
“Defensively, we tried to force them to the weak side and to the left side and have that slide there ready to double,” Darien senior defender/tri-captain Daphne Budd said. “Our slides were there and we were able to shut them down and our goalie played amazing as always.”
Budd, junior Annie Wright and junior Logan Book helped lead the way defensively for the Blue Wave, who focused on slowing down McKenna and junior midfielder Courtney Scheetz.
“Our defense has been good all year, it’s been very solid,” Lindley said. “And the first half we were able to finish our shots and build a lead, which helped us.”
“It was a great game, our kids never quit throughout the whole game,” Davis said. “I’m excited to be here and though I’m disappointed we didn’t win, this was a big step forward for our program.”
Davis believes the experience will help his squad.
“Our program has a lot of pride and this gives us some more pride and motivation,” he said.
Darien, which posted a 12-4 win over Warde in the regular season, held a 23-19 shots-on-goal advantage and forced 14 turnovers. Warde, which received seven saves from Snitkoff, created 10 turnovers.
“I’ve been lucky to be on four great teams that won four FCIAC and state championships,” Budd said. “Every single year we have a group of girls who never give up and stop working.”
DARIEN 12, WARDE 5
WARDE 2 3 — 5
DARIEN 9 3 — 12
Scoring: FW — Libby McKenna 4 g; Olivia Seymour 1 g; D — Susannah Ropp 4 g, 1 a; Laura Murphy 3 g; Chandler Kirby 2 g; Kaeleigh Morrill 2 g; Katie Cronin 1 g; Goalies: FW — Rebekah Snitkoff (7 saves); D — Carly Schoudel (8 saves).
Records: Darien 21-1-1; Warde 14-6.