STRATFORD -- The benchmark for the Darien High School girls lacrosse program is championships.
So the Blue Wave know the difference between good teams and championship squads.
"Good teams have good athletes," said Darien senior quad-captain Hollis Perticone. "Championship teams have great chemistry. The seniors on this team have been playing lacrosse together since sixth grade. A group of us have been starters at Darien High since freshman year. We knew in our hearts we had to end this season and our high school careers with a victory. There was no way we were going to lose this game. Not a doubt."
The dream became a reality for Darien High Saturday afternoon as the No. 3 seeded Blue wave conquered No. 1 seed and previously unbeaten Glastonbury High School, 13-9, to capture the Class L girls lacrosse state championship at Bunnell High.
"We had three major items to accomplish this season," said Darien senior Dillon Schoen, who scored four goals. "We wanted to beat the Long Island schools (Darien topped Garden City and Farmingdale but lost to Manhasset and Suffern). We wanted to win the FCIAC title (Darien won its 13th crown since 1993). And we wanted to win the state title. For all the seniors to finish their high school careers like this is simply historic."
Indeed. Saturday's triumph marked Darien's sixth state championship since girls lacrosse became an official CIAC sport in 2004 and third in four seasons.
Although Glastonbury entered with the gaudy 21-0 record, the Tomahawks knew they had a small margin for error against Darien.
"If you've watched Connecticut girls lacrosse the last 10 years, Darien has been No. 1 since minute No. 1. We knew we faced a very tall order today," said Glastonbury head coach Kris Cofiell. "You're on the field facing Darien. They've won more state titles than anyone else. The thing is Darien plays so many big games every season. For us, THIS was our biggest game of the year."
The first half was a grind as Glastonbury junior goalie Audrey Apanovitch made six of her eight saves to hold Darien to a 7-4 intermission edge. Hollis Perticone collected three of her four goals along with two assists and dominated the faceoffs late to lift the Blue Wave.
In the second half, Schoen and Kaeleigh Morrill (two goals each) paced the Darien attack. But the key senior standout was Blue Wave senior goalie Kyra Gardner (seven of her 10 saves).
"Darien's goalie was so great, period," Glastonbury's Cofiell said. "They did a good job faceguarding our top scorer Taylor Walker (two goals) but she had touches. Our offense had too many turnovers. Every possession, every shot against Darien counts. You practice for it but the reality of their pressure for an entire 50 minutes is a different world for us."
A number of Gardner's best saves came after Glastonbury closed to 10-7 with 16:09 left to go.
"Kyra's big saves were the turning point in the second half," said Darien head coach Lisa Lindley. "Kyra has been strong all year. She was the backup goalie to All-Stater Caylee Waters for three years. This season was her opportunity. I'm so happy she made the most of it."
"For three years, Kyra worked so hard and never complained," Perticone said. "This year she got her chance and she killed it. She was so awesome today." Read Full Article
Time will tell where Darien girls lacrosse goes from here as 11 seniors graduate.
"I've been coaching our four senior captains since 6th grade. So it was special to me to win and for them to finish their careers like this is huge," Lindley said. "I will miss their personalities. Their competitiveness. And their will to win."
"Lisa is the driving force of Darien girls lacrosse," Gardner said. "She motivates us. She always know exactly the right words to say. Because of her we KNEW we could do this."
Indeed, the tradition continues and another chapter of the legacy was secured.
"Darien is so patient and so disciplined," Glastonbury's Cofiell said. "We wanted this so badly but Darien made great plays. We've won our league (CCC) nine of the last 10 years. But I hope someday that we can say something other than we are the top team in the northern end of the state."
Class L Championship
Darien 13, Glastonbury 9
DARIEN 7 6 -- 13
GLASTONBURY 4 5 -- 9
Records: Darien 21-2; Glastonbury 21-1.
Scoring: D -- Katie Cronin 1 goal, 2 assists; Hollis Perticone 4g, 2a; Emily Stein 1g, 1a; Dillon Schoen 4g, 1a; Mariah Matheis 1g, 1a; Kaeleigh Morrill 2g. G -- Madeleine Norman 3g; Taylor Walker 2g; Lindsay Shettle 2g, 1a; Julia Ostrowski 1a; Cami Santor 2g; Sara DiCenzo 2a. Goalies: D -- Kyra Gardner (10 saves). G -- Audrey Apanovitch (8 saves).