Huge second half propels Darien past Greenwich

Darien's Kristy Gilbert, left, attempts to move up field while being defended by Greenwich's Emma Christie. Bob Lucky photo

Darien’s Kristy Gilbert, left, attempts to move up field while being defended by Greenwich’s Emma Christie. Bob Lucky photo

Tuesday’s Darien-Greenwich girls lacrosse matchup seemed like it was going to be another nail-biter between the two rivals. Then the second half began. The Blue Wave – the No. 1-ranked team in the state – imposed their will scoring nine of the game’s 13 second half goals en route to recording a 17-9 victory over the visiting Cardinals. Junior Emily Stein scored six goals and senior Taylor Hardison had two goals and five assists for the Blue Wave. Here’s the link to the game story and below are what I thought were some of the key points of the game.

QUICK ON THE DRAW:  Ellie Bennett began taking the draws for Darien early in the first half and the junior came up with some key draw controls for the Blue Wave, enabling her team to gain possession. She was especially effective in the second half.

“Ellie did a good job winning those draws,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “Greenwich has some very good players taking the draws like Emily Johnson and Carolyn Paletta, but Ellie countered them well, which was key.

TURNOVERS IN THE CARDS: Possession was a bit hard to come by for Greenwich during the second half. The Cardinals didn’t have many clear shots on goal, as the Blue Wave seemed to have the ball and took its time running its settled offense. When the Cardinals did have opportunities offensively, turnovers seemed to halt each threat.

“Unforced turnovers – we beat ourselves on attack,” GHS coach Caitlin Keane said. “There were opportunities that we should have capitalized on, but we didn’t. We have been working hard on our defense, now we have to go back to working on attack. There were too many times when we were trying to fight through 2 on 1’s instead of moving the ball.”

SECOND-HALF SPURT: Stein tied the score a 7-7 with a goal 1:31 into the second half and the Blue Wave cruised from there. Dillon Schoen gave Darien the lead for good a minute later and with each goal, the home team seemed to gain more and more momentum. Greenwich, meanwhile, looked a bit deflated once Darien built a 12-8 advantage.

“At halftime we said the team that got the first draw and the first goal was going to win the game,” Hardison said. “So we got the ball rolling early, set the momentum and kept the momentum.”

“The second half we finished our shots,” Stein said. “We missed some shots we could have made in the first half, but the second half we put them away.”

STEIN/HARDISON COMBINATION TOO MUCH: Hardison set Stein up for four goals and finished, with Hardison registering five assists for the game. The duo proved to be tough to contend with the whole game.

“She (Hardison) also sees me and makes perfect passes to me,” Stein said. “It seemed like she had the assist on every one of my goals.”

EXTRA NOTES: Johnson of Greenwich got hit in the head in with 9:35 left in the first half and sat out the rest of the half. She returned in the second half though. Greenwich’s Sarah Rider also took a hit to the head in the second half. She did not return to action. Greenwich High 2012 graduates Claire Feeney and Shannon Colligan were on the sideline with the team helping the coaching staff. Both players were members of the Cardinals’ 2011 and 2012 state championship lacrosse teams. Feeney starred in her first season with the Winthrop University lacrosse team, while Colligan had a strong season for the North Carolina State soccer team.

Both teams wore pink to support cancer awareness. Greenwich donned pink shirts, while Darien wore pink socks and had pink ribbons in their hair.

POSTSEASON PREVIEW?: Darien has moved up from Class M to Class L this year, so the Blue Wave and Cardinals could very well meet in the CIAC Class L Tournament. Don’t be surprised to see these two squads meet in the FCIAC tourney again as well.

“Since this was the first time we played them this season we hope to come out them stronger in the postseason,” Paletta said.


Dave Fierro