NORWALK—For the first time in six years, the Darien High School and New Canaan High School girls lacrosse teams found themselves in the same state tournament bracket.

So how much did Darien want to prevail against its suburban archrival in the Class L semifinals Tuesday night at Brien McMahon High’s Jack Casagrande Field?

"Since we beat Ridgefield in the FCIAC Championship final (in late May), every practice we’ve had has been about this matchup with New Canaan," said Darien’s veteran coach Lisa Lindley. "The girls were very focused and very ready to play tonight."

Indeed. Darien controlled all phases of the game from the opening faceoff to the final buzzer on its way to an impressive 20-10 triumph over the Rams.

The win means No. 4 seed Darien (19-3 overall) will battle No. 11 seed Wilton for the Class L championship on Saturday at a time to be determined at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. Wilton ousted No. 2 seed Greenwich, 14-8 in Tuesday’s early Class L semifinal.

It will be a matchup where all the slates should be wiped clean. The young Wilton squad has grown up quite a bit since losing 15-2 to Darien in the regu;lar season back on May 4.

"From what we saw tonight, Wilton is an improved team since our first meeting," Darien coach Lindley said. "We will prepare hard and expect a strong game."

What the Darien High School girls lacrosse program likes the most is collecting championships.

Darien will be looking for its fifth consecutive Class L state title (2013-2016) Saturday. In all, Darien has won eight state crowns (2011 Class M, 2007-2009 Division I titles) since 2007.

It was a trying evening for New Canaan, which had won four Class M state championships and lost in 2014 in overtime to Wilton since 2012 before moving to Class L this year.

Darien junior Katie Ramsay dominated the faceoffs (winning about 85 percent) in the contest.

Darien jumped out to a 5-2 edge then held New Canaan scoreless for more than eight minutes to build an 11-3 bulge that was 11-5 at intermission.

"Darien was great, period," said New Canaan coach Kristin Woods. "They won faceoffs. They won the 50-50 ground balls. They executed on offense. We didn’t possess the ball enough. And when we did get it, we felt like we had to shoot right away to keep pace with Darien. We never settled in and patiently ran our offense."

Christine Fiore paced Darien’s spread, quick-fire offense with six goals while Ashley Humphrey had four goals.

For New Canaan, Karlie Bucci finished with four goals while Braeden Dial had three goals. However, Darien’s defense limited Campbell Armstrong to a single goal with 12:53 left to play.

Darien senior goalie Carly Schoudel was clutch when she needed to be with six saves. New Canaan’s Cameron Blair registered seven saves.

CONFIDENCE AS IMPORTANT AS TALENT

Darien coach Lindley was pleased with what she witnessed Tuesday night.

"I was happy to see the girls play with confidence," Lindley said. "Player for player we have a strong and deep roster. My job is simply to get all the girls to believe it."

A GOOD LESSON FOR NEW CANAAN

New Canaan, which ended its season at 16-6 overall, will graduate seven seniors from this group including Armstrong and defender Ellery Baran, who was out injured the entire season.

However, leading scorers Bucci, Dial and Gianna Bruno along with goalies Blair and Caroline O’Dea will top a long list of returnees for 2018.

"I thought we might make a run at them early in the second half but it didn’t happen. It was Darien’s night," New Canaan coach Woods said. "We only had a few senior starters so we have quite a bit of talent to look forward to next season."

THE LAST STEP ON THE JOURNEY

Darien has not lost since April 26 when it fell 14-11 to Manhassett (NY). The Blue Wave own a 12-game win streak.

"Winning titles is enough incentive for us," Darien junior Fiore said. "The momentum of winning games like this will carry us forward to Saturday."

rdepreta@stamfordadvocate.com

 

DARIEN 20, NEW CANAAN 10

NEW CANAAN 5 5—10

DARIEN 11 9—20

Records: New Canaan 16-6 overall; Darien 19-3 overall.

Scoring: NC—Karlie Bucci 4 goals; Braeden Dial 3g; Julia Ozimek 1g; Lauren Bisceglia 1g; Campbell Armstrong 1g; Dar— Emma Jacques 3g, 1 assist; Nicole Humphrey 2g, 1a; Kendall Wisinski 1g, 1a; Ashley Humphrey 4g, 2a; Katie Ramsay 1g, 2a. Christine Fiore 6g. Anna Stein 2g; Katie Elders 1g

Goalies: NC—Cameron Blair (7 saves). Dar—Carly Schoudel (6 saves).