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Caroline Rintoul came into the 2017 lacrosse season knowing it could be something special.

Just one senior had graduated from the 2016 Greens Farms Academy team, which posted a 13-3 record and advanced to the Fairchester Athletic Association semifinals for the second straight season.

I think we have all grown up with that tradition. It’s such a part of the town. They take it seriously and the skills we learn make us ready.

— Caroline Rintoul

With Rintoul, a Darien resident, and Division 1-bound Kate Paliotta of Westport, the lone returning seniors this spring, a young but experienced team of Dragons had high hopes.

And the players – which included five other Darien residents playing key roles – didn’t disappoint, finishing with an 11-3 mark and advancing to the FAA championship game for the first time in more than a decade.

“It was huge to make it this far,” said Rintoul, a four-year starter at midfield and defense. “Every year, Kate and I had gotten to the semifinals, so it was a huge thing this year to do that.”

The town of Darien helped played a huge role in the Dragons push to the top, as well.

Joining Rintoul on the roster – all of whom played key roles – are town residents junior Bella Litt, sophomores Fran DeVita, Sarah Logan, Ella Murphy, and freshman Caroline Rintoul.

All of those players came through a youth system which has begat success at upper levels at both Darien High and other area schools.

Starting at such a young age and growing up in a town that supports lacrosse at the younger levels, gives players a lot of experience once they hit the high school level, Rintoul said.

“I definitely think so,” she said. “I think we have all grown up with that tradition. It’s such a part of the town. They take it seriously and the skills we learn make us ready.”

What Rintoul wasn’t ready for was to be one of two seniors on a team with two juniors, nine sophomores and seven freshmen.

“Kate and I talked about that a lot,” Rintoul said.

The captains knew the team couldn’t feature their voices alone, not with all the young experience coming back this spring.

“Instead of listening to just us, everybody got to talk,” she said. “It was a good thing in a way. It helped bring our team closer together. Even the sophomores and juniors had a voice.”

The coaches noticed the duo’s leadership style and how it paid off for the benefit of the team.

“Kate and Caroline were everything you could hope for in captains,” GFA coach Missy Radin said. “As a result, the team was close and have incredible memories of achieving their goals with close friends this season. They will be greatly missed but have succeeded in setting a new tone and demonstrated what incredible team captains and a strong team dynamic can achieve.”

Rintoul said the team’s closeness was a big key in its success.

“This team was especially close,” she said.

Rintoul said the team’s spring break trip to the IMG Academy for training was especially key in bringing it together.

“After that, everything just felt right this year,” she said.

Even though her high school career is over, Rintoul — who is headed to Vanderbilt University in the fall — feels good about the future of the GFA program, as well.

“I really think the future is bright,” she said. “This year we came out strong and the whole mentality of the team has changed. Everybody is super excited and ready to come back.”