Seventh heaven: Darien girls lacrosse beats Wilton for FCIAC championship
During its incredible streak of 105 straight wins against Connecticut opponents, the Darien girls lacrosse team hasn’t been pushed to the brink very often.
As it turns out, it’s much more fun to win a close one.
Trailing the Wilton Warriors with 14:30 remaining, the Blue Wave answered the bell with three consecutive goals to take the lead and held on for an 11-10 victory in the FCIAC championship game Thursday night at Brien McMahon High School.
It was an amazing seventh consecutive league title for Darien and one which will be remembered for a long time.
“It was awesome,” Nicole Humphrey told the HAN Network. “Close games like that are what we live for. As part of the Darien program, just pulling through in the last minutes is so fun to be out there with my best friends. We had a great time.”
Top-seeded Darien (17-2) was a heavy favorite coming into the tournament, but Wilton (15-5), which had eliminated No. 2 seed New Canaan in the semifinals, was certainly up to the challenge.
The Warriors were strong on the draw controls, giving them numerous opportunities to possess and shoot, while Eva Greco and Paisley Eagan were tough to stop on the offensive end.
“They have speed, they have good shooters,” Ashley Humphrey said. “Watching Nicole (Humphrey) and the rest of the defense shut their best players down, it was awesome to see everyone working together.”
The two Humphrey sisters combined for five of the Wave’s 11 goals, as Ashley, a sophomore, scored three times and dished out two assists, and Nicole, a junior, scored twice and had one assist.
Senior co-captain Christine Fiore netted two goals; and senior co-captains Emma Jaques and Katie Ramsay, Maddie Joyce and Shea van den Broek had one goal each.
On the defensive side, goalie Maggie Brooks had a big night with eight saves to earn game MVP honors.
Ramsay, who was strong on the draw and the defensive end of the field, was held in check scoring-wise by the Warriors defense for much of the night. Her one goal, however, was the biggest of the game, as she ripped a bounce shot from the right side to give the Wave an 11-9 lead with 5:50 remaining.
Wilton’s Greco scored the game’s final goal to make it 11-10, but that was all for the Warriors as Darien went on to win.
The Wave seemed to be on the verge of opening up a typical lead in the first half, but Wilton responded each time. Darien led 5-2 midway through the half, but that would be the biggest margin of the game.
Wilton scored the final two goals of the first half to tie the score at 7-7, and took leads of 8-7 and 9-8 in the second half before the Wave went on the winning run.
With her team trailing, head coach Lisa Lindley called a timeout to settle things down.
“We snap into these weird moods where we’re not hustling and we get out of (our game),” Nicole Humphrey said. “So I think it’s good what she calls those timeouts to snap us back into it and tell us to get it going.”
“Just turn it on,” Ashley Humphrey said of the discussion. “We weren’t playing our game. They were out-hustling us. I think we just needed to get in the right mindset and really light it up out there.”
Van den Broek scored the equalizer off a great feed from Ashley Humphrey, before Nicole Humphrey shook a couple of defenders, slipped inside and scored to put the Blue Wave ahead for good at 10-9 with 9:49 remaining.
During her postseason interview with the HAN Network, Nicole Humphrey summed up the moment with a smile.
“It’s incredible,” she said. “Darien’s awesome.”
FCIAC Girls Lacrosse FInal - Darien 11, Wilton 10
Thursday, May 24, at Brien McMahon HS
Wilton 7-3 10
Darien 7-4 11
Wilton: Eva Greco 4g; Paisley Eagan 3g, 1a; Julia Bonnist 1g; Sophia Sudano 1g; Taylor LaMantia 1g
Darien: Ashley Humphrey 3g, 2a; Nicole Humphrey 2g, 2a; Christine Fiore 2g; Emma Jaques 1g; Maddie Joyce 1g; Shea van den Broek 1g; Katie Ramsay 1g
W - Zoe Lash 5 saves
D - Maggie Brooks 8 saves (MVP)