Darien tops Greenwich for FCIAC girls lax title
It was the ultimate shootout, a back-and-forth battle between defending state champions and perennial FCIAC powerhouses.
And when it was over, it was Darien standing on top of the FCIAC mountain once again.
Emily Stein and Jena Fritts each had four goals and one assist as the fourth-seeded Blue Wave avenged the second of their two in-state regular-season losses and added a league-best 11th FCIAC championship to their trophy case with a 17-14 victory over third-seeded Greenwich at Brien McMahon High School Friday evening.
"We worked so hard to get here, so this feels great," said Stein, a sophomore who has already committed to Northwestern. "The draw was important in getting us out to an early lead. It was just heart and hustle on groundballs."
After a high-scoring first half, Darien (14-5) took a 9-8 advantage into the intermission.
The Blue Wave would stretch the lead to 12-8 and eventually 15-10, but the Cardinals -- gunning for their first league title since 2003 -- refused to go away.
Greenwich outscored its rival 4-0 during an 11-minute span and pulled to within 15-14 on a free position goal by Sophie Waine (four goals, three assists).
Yet Darien, thanks in part to North Carolina-bound goalie Caylee Waters (seven saves), never did let in the tying goal and finally broke a 14-minute scoreless stretch when the program's all-time leader in assists, Taylor Hardison, found the back of the net for the third time with 3:13 remaining.
Dillon Schoen then completed her hat trick with 1:16 left on the clock, and moments later the Blue Wave were rejoicing in their 21st postseason tournament title.
"This is amazing," Fritts said. "We learned from mistakes, went to goal and played great defense. We deserved to have payback (from a one-goal loss in the regular season) and just wanted this one. We've got the momentum now, so now the goal is to go win states."
Carolyn Paletta finished with four goals for Greenwich (16-3), while Tori Dunster scored twice. The Cardinals also got a big game from goalie Hannah Jeffrey, who kept her team close throughout with nine saves.
Brynn Gasparino had two goals in the win, while Kristen Gilbert also scored.