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Girls lacrosse notebook Darien playing with extra motivation after losing captain Humphrey to injury

May 22, 2019

The Darien Blue Wave had plenty of motivation for this girls lacrosse season. Playing in a well-established dynasty comes with its own sort of pride, of course.

This postseason, the top-ranked Blue Wave (16-2) is playing with an extra bit of drive and emotion after losing senior co-captain Nicole Humphrey to an injury during a game at Manhasset (N.Y.) on May 2.

Humphrey, who joined the Blue Wave after transferring from Greens Farms Academy for her sophomore season, is an All-American midfielder who will play for the University of North Carolina next year.

Losing Humphrey was tough enough for the offense, but for one of her teammates it hit a little closer to home, as Nicole’s younger sister Ashley is a junior who is one of the quarterbacks of the Darien attack.

“It’s really tough,” Ashley Humphrey said. “I haven’t played a high school season without her. It was obviously really hard to deal with and now we’re just working to get her back to full strength.”

Despite not being able to suit up for games, Nicole Humphrey has remained a true leader for the Wave.

“She’s still such a strong presence on and off the field,” Ashley Humphrey said. “She’s still a captain, she’s still on the field with us and she’ll be back practicing soon. It was obviously a tough loss on the field but she’s still in our hearts.”

In their first game after Nicole’s injury, Darien faced a true test with a game at New Canaan, the No. 2 team in the state. The Wave won that game in a nail-biter, 11-10 — the first of what could be three meetings of the rivals this season.

It was an emotional win for the Blue Wave.

“Nicole’s not only an insane player, but she’s also a captain and a leader,” junior Sarah Jaques said after that game. “The other captains did a really good job of stepping up and making sure we pulled out this win for Nicole. We had the mentality that this is for our captain and this is for our teammate.”

Darien is riding a seven-game winning streak as it gets deeper into the postseason, and with the state tournament getting underway next week, the Wave is aiming to regain the state title they lost last year.

After the win over New Canaan, Darien coach Lisa Lindley said the injury, while difficult on the team, offers other players a chance to step up.

“Everyone is devastated that Nicole has suffered a season-ending injury,” Lindley said. “Now it’s time for people to pick up the slack. She’s arguably our best player and she goes down, and today, I saw some kids given an opportunity and they took advantage of it.”

CHESHIRE VS. GUILFORD FOR SCC CROWN

Cheshire came up two goals short of the SCC championship last spring. They’ll get another shot at a title Thursday when they take on Guilford in the SCC final at 5:30 p.m., at West Haven’s Ken Strong Stadium.

Both teams are enjoying exceptional seasons, and are primed to be the No. 1 seeds in two of the three state tournaments — Cheshire (15-1) in Class L and Guilford (14-2) in Class M.

The top two seeds in the SCC tournament both had first-round byes and got by their semifinal opponents by double digits. No. 1 Cheshire defeated defending champion Daniel Hand 19-6, while No. 2 Guilford defeated Sheehan 17-6.

For Cheshire, which had lost to Hand in the final in each of the past three seasons, getting past the Tigers was key.

“Hand is always a good program and you know they will never roll over,” Cheshire coach Dan Warburton told Hearst’s Dan Nowak. “In the regular season we beat them in a close game and we relaxed a bit in that game. Tonight we came out focused. From day one this season, I stressed the only way to get to where we want to be is to play as a team, and they have all bought into that concept.”

Cheshire’s win featured six goals and one assist from Annie Eddy, and four goals and two assists from Annie Acquavita.

In the other semifinal, Guilford led 5-2 at halftime and outscored Sheehan 12-4 en route to the win.

Maddie Costantino led the scoring with six goals, and Nicolette Spotlow scored five goals.

FINE PERFORMANCES

Annie Eddy, Cheshire: Eddy racked up six goals and one assist to lead the Cheshire Rams to a 19-6 rout of Daniel Hand in the SCC semifinals on Tuesday. She also had seven goals and three assists in the Rams’ 20-6 win over North Haven to close out the regular season.

Maris DiBeneditto, Pomperaug: DiBendetto scored seven goals in the Panthers’ 15-7 win over Brookfield in the SWC quarterfinals.

Jessica Evans, Pomperaug: Evans had six points on four goals and two assists to help lead Pomperaug to a 12-11 win over Newtown in the SWC semifinals on Monday.

Ashley Humphrey, Darien: Humphrey netted five goals and dished out three assists as Darien defeated Wilton 19-9 in the FCIAC semifinals.

Sarah Jaques, Darien: Jaques had nine points with a game-high six goals and three assists, as the Blue Wave rolled over Wilton 19-9 in the FCIAC semifinals.

Kyle Kirby, Staples: Kirby had seven points on four goals and three assists as the Wreckers edged Ludlowe 11-9 in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

Maggie Lesnick, Daniel Hand: Lesnick made eight saves as the Tigers topped Lauralton Hall 11-10.

Rachel Mikolay, New Fairfield: Mikolay collected nine saves as New Fairfield edged Joel Barlow 6-5 in the SWC semifinals on Monday.

Caroline O’Dea, New Canaan: O’Dea made seven saves and held Greenwich to just one first-half goal as New Canaan won 10-5 in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

Sophia Sudano, Wilton: Sudano scored a game-high six goals as the Warriors defeated Ridgefield 12-6 in the FCIAC quarterfinals.

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