Darien, New Canaan impressive in FCIAC girls lacrosse semifinals

Darien and New Canaan showed why they are the top two ranked teams in the state Monday, impressively advancing to the championship game of the FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Tournament.

The second-seeded Rams imposed their will from the start in a 14-6 win over third-seeded Greenwich, while No. 1-seeded Darien was challenged a bit in their 21-9 victory over upstart Danbury.

The Blue Wave (16-1) and Rams (17-1) will meet in the FCIAC championship game on Friday at Brien McMahon High School at 4 p.m. This matchup marks the fifth time Darien and New Canaan have faced each other in the conference title game since 1995, with Darien winning each time. Darien has won 11 FCIAC titles, the most in the conference under coach Lisa Lindley’s watch.

New Canaan beat Darien in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament last year, 9-6, but the Blue Wave topped the Rams in this spring’s regular season meeting.

“New Canaan is a big rival of ours and it’s always an exciting game when we play them,” said Darien standout Dillon Schoen, who posted a game-high six goals against Danbury.

The Hatters, who made their first appearance in the FCIAC semifinals, held their own against the powerhouse Blue Wave – especially in the first half. Danbury trailed just 9-6 with 3:45 left in the first half, but Darien scored the last three goals of the half, then came out strong in the second half.

“Being a new coach, it took a little while for the team to adjust to my philosophy,” Danbury coach Jaime Williams said. “Once they got used to it, we got better as the season went on. We set our goals high in the preseason and we’re happy to make it this far in FCIACs.”

Lindsey Eanniello, who helped keep the Hatters within striking distance in the first half, finished with five goals. But depth was one of the factors in this one, as Darien just had too many scorers and solid defenders.

“We really rely on each other,” Schoen said. “We moved the ball well and were able to set each other up for some good shots.”

Emily Stein had five goals and Jena Fritts scored four times for Darien, which is now the focus of New Canaan. The Rams were powered by Olivia Hompe’s five goals and hat tricks by Elizabeth Miller and Kathleen DeMarino in their triumph against Greenwich.

With the win, New Canaan extended its winning streak over Greenwich to eight games dating back to the 2008 season. The Rams have also won four consecutive postseason games against the Cardinals during that span

The Rams led 6-0 20 minutes into the game and 9-2 at halftime. Coach Kristin Woods’ crew controlled the ball the majority of the game and made it difficult for the Cards to get good shots on goal when they did have possession.

“I thought we did a really good job of slowing down their transition game,” Woods said. “It was also nice having Liz (O’Sullivan) back in goal. She has been hurt, but she was refreshed and ready to go.”

Greenwich, which received a hat trick from Carolyn Paletta, has about a week off before it begins play in the Class L playoffs – a tournament they’ve won the last two years.

“We need a break to refocus a little bit and reflect a bit,” GHS coach Caitlin Keane said. “Our players are a little bit worn down, so hopefully we’ll start the state tournament with fresher legs.”

Dave Fierro