AP NEWS

girls lacrosse In rivalry battle with New Canaan, round one goes to Darien

May 9, 2019

The Darien Blue Wave and New Canaan Rams girls lacrosse teams are no strangers to big games against difficult opponents.

When it came time to play each other Saturday, there was an added buzz in the air — an electricity that can’t be matched.

“It’s definitely a different feeling,” Darien junior Sarah Jaques said. “Every time we go into this rivalry game, our coach tells us to play this game like we’re playing a regular game, but obviously, everyone is hyped up for the rivalry.”

Jaques said it took toward the middle of the game for the Wave to settle in. Darien eventually pulled in front and held off New Canaan in a wild finish for an 11-10 victory at Dunning Field.

Jaques led the scoring with five goals and junior Ashley Humphrey had four assists for the Blue Wave, which also gained a measure of revenge for last year’s 12-11 loss to New Canaan in the Class L semifinals.

Still, when all was said and done, there was the distinct feeling that this was just round one between the two top-ranked teams in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll.

No. 1 Darien (11-2 overall, 8-0) remained unbeaten against Connecticut opponents, and its two losses were each by one goal to regional powers.

“This is why we have our out-of-state schedule,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “We’ve had two games (Eastport-South Manor and Manhasset) where we lost by one goal and we were right in those games. So in this situation, we’re not panicking. We know we can win a game like this and that is why those games help us in the long run.”

No. 2 New Canaan (10-3, 6-1) has also lost two games to out-of-state powers, and Saturday’s game is its lone Connecticut loss. The Rams had an early 3-1 lead, but a yellow card gave Darien a man advantage and the Wave capitalized with four straight goals to take the lead.

“Any given day,” New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. “Every single game, you’ve to come to play and we just have to make sure we take care of the little things. We were a little frantic at the beginning of the game and that hurt us, but we just have to have a little more composure and come to play again.”

If everything breaks right for the two rivals, they could meet two more times this season. The FCIAC tournament gets under way on May 17, with the first round of the Class L playoffs scheduled for May 28. Currently, Darien is tied for second in the Class L rankings with New Canaan seventh, although there are still several games to play.

Whenever they meet, the buzz and electricity will follow.

“I remember when I was younger, we’d come to the Darien-New Canaan games and it’s inspiring for the whole town,” Jaques said. “This is what you’re going up against, this is what you play for and this is what our town represents.”

TEAMMATES HIT 100

The Greenwich Cardinals have had their share of ace players over the years and they recently celebrated milestones for two of them, as seniors Grace Fahey and Paige Finneran scored their 100th career goals just five days apart.

Fahey hit the century mark as part of a five-goal performance in a 16-6 win over Trumbull on April 25, and Finneran reached 100 goals during a 19-2 victory over Westhill on April 30. Fahey had an assist on Finneran’s milestone goal.

“You can’t even make it up. Grace and I have been playing together since eighth grade,” Finneran told Hearst Connecticut Media’s David Fierro. “I wear No. 2, she wears No. 3 and we’re both lefties. We know how to set each other up and I have gotten used to her knowing my moves.

“She (Fahey) has probably assisted on half of my goals,” Finneran added. “I was so happy that she reached 100 career goals, she was so deserving of it. We began playing on Greenwich Youth Lacrosse travel teams in fourth grade and our parents coached us. It was awesome and it’s been great over the years.”

AND THEN THERE WAS ONE

With five teams suffering their first losses since the start of last week, there’s just one unbeaten team remaining in the state: the New Fairfield Rebels.

The Rebels (12-0) took care of business Monday night when they knocked off North Branford, 13-6. The two had been the last undefeated teams in Connecticut.

The Rebels, the two-time defending Class S champs who are ranked No. 10 in this week’s Coaches Poll, led 4-2 at halftime and then put it away with a 9-4 advantage in the second half.

There were plenty of weapons for New Fairfield, as Danielle Hernandez scored a game-high four goals, Nicole Berry and Kate Nieves each had hat tricks, Sydney Colesworthy scored twice, Katelyn Sousa had one goal and goalie Rachel Mikolay made six saves.

North Branford (11-1) was led by Jessie Kilburn’s three goals.

Also falling from the unbeaten ranks recently were Canton, Tolland, Pomperaug and Simsbury.

East Catholic (6-5), which has won five straight games, was responsible for two of those knockouts as the Eagles beat Tolland (11-1), by a 15-9 score last Monday, and then edged Canton (10-1) in overtime, 13-12 on Saturday.

The overtime win marked the third straight season in which the East Catholic-Canton game has been decided by one goal. East Catholic won 10-9 in OT last year, and Canton won 14-13 in regulation two seasons ago.

Simsbury (8-2) won its first eight games but lost twice during the past week, first falling to Conard 17-10 on Friday and then to Glastonbury 11-9 on Monday.

In a meeting of ranked teams, No. 9 Pomperaug (11-1-1) suffered its first loss when it fell to No. 8 Ludlowe 13-12 on Saturday in Fairfield.

Darien, the state’s top-ranked team, has two losses this season, but is unbeaten against Connecticut opponents. No. 2 New Canaan has three losses: two against out-of-state opponents and one against Darien. No. 3 Wilton also has three losses, with its only in-state loss being to New Canaan.

FINE PERFORMANCES

Annie Acquavita, Cheshire: Acquavita passed the 100-goal mark for her career when she netted five in Cheshire’s 22-9 win over Branford on Tuesday. She also had two assists to give her seven points in the game.

Cameryn Antler, Mercy: The senior netted seven goals as Mercy defeated Lauralton Hall, 16-10. Mia Carbone had six goals in the win.

Claire Carew, Northwest Catholic: Carew had six goals and one assist and surpassed 100 goals for her career as Northwest Catholic downed RHAM 17-10.

Alexis DeLucia, Montville: DeLucia scored seven goals and had one assists as the Montville Indians defeated New London 18-8.

Annie Eddy, Cheshire: Eddy had five goals and one assist in the Rams’ 14-10 victory over Newtown and then scored a game-high seven goals in a 22-9 win over Branford.

Georgia Hoey, Ludlowe: Hoey made nine saves and allowed just three goals as Ludlowe defeated town rival Warde for the first time in seven years, 9-3 on Thursday. She then made 12 saves when the Falcons defeated Pomperaug 13-12 on Saturday. It was Pomperaug’s first loss this spring.

Ashley Humphrey, Darien: The junior had nine points on three goals and six assists as the Blue Wave rolled past Greenwich 21-8. That followed a four-assist performance in Darien’s 11-10 win over rival New Canaan on Saturday.

Lily Ivanovich, St. Joseph: Ivanovich had 12 points with six goals and six assists in the Cadets’ 19-4 win over Kennedy Catholic (N.Y.).

Sarah Jaques, Darien: Jaques scored a game-high five goals as No. 1 Darien defeated No. 2 New Canaan 11-10 at Dunning Field on Saturday. Jaques then had six goals during a 21-8 rout of Greenwich on Monday.

Jessie Kilburn, North Branford: Kilburn, a senior co-captain, scored nine goals and had two assists for 11 points in North Branford’s 15-9 win over Morgan.

Olivia Osterberg, Trumbull: Osterberg collected 11 saves as the Eagles defeated West Haven 12-6.

Jessica Russo, Fitch: Russo had four goals, including the winner in the final minute, as Fitch topped Morgan 17-16.

Brianna Shaw, Branford: The junior scored six goals to lead the Bobcats to a 13-7 win over Lauralton Hall.

Emma Sabbadini, Stonington: Sabbadini racked up 11 points on five goals and six assists in Stonington’s 21-10 win over RHAM. Teammate Hannah Lamb scored seven goals.

Lydia Tinnerello, Old Lyme: Tinnerello scored seven goals and had one assist to lead Old Lyme to a 23-12 romp over Haddam-Killingworth.

Annie Uyeki, North Haven: The senior had seven points on three goals and four assists as North Haven edged Mercy 13-12.

GAMES TO WATCH

Glastonbury at Cheshire, Thursday, 6 p.m.: The 8-2 Tomahawks take on the 11-1 Rams in a battle of teams bound for the Class L playoffs.

New Fairfield at Pomperaug, Thursday, 7 p.m.: The undefeated Rebels take on the Panthers, who are looking to bounce back from their first loss.

Darien at Wilton, Friday, 3 p.m.: No. 1 Darien squares off with No. 3 Wilton with just a week to go before the FCIAC tournament begins.

Glastonbury at Minnechaug (Mass.), Saturday, 11 a.m.: Glastonbury continues a tough stretch of games as it heads north to face a 9-3 Minnechaug team.

Greenwich at New Canaan, Saturday, noon: Another key FCIAC battle as No. 6 Greenwich takes on No. 2 New Canaan at Dunning Field.

Canton at New Fairfield, Saturday, 4 p.m.: A clash between two Class S contenders.

Staples at Ludlowe, Saturday, 7 p.m.: One more FCIAC showdown of playoff-bound teams. Staples is ranked No. 4 and Ludlowe is No. 8.

Simsbury at Canton, Monday, 3:45 p.m.: Both teams lost for the first time this season last week and are looking to regain momentum for the playoffs.

Darien at Longmeadow (Mass.), Monday, 5 p.m.: Longmeadow faces its third FCIAC team this season. The Lancers lost to Greenwich and New Canaan on the road in April, and get top-ranked Darien at home.

Ridgefield at Wilton, Tuesday, 6 p.m.: A rivalry game between No. 7 Ridgefield and No. 3 Wilton. This could also be an FCIAC quarterfinal matchup just three days later.

Staples at New Fairfield, Tuesday, 6 p.m.: A big test for both teams. New Fairfield is the defending Class S champion and Staples is having its best season in years.