The Darien and New Canaan girls lacrosse teams are no strangers to big games against difficult opponents.
When it came time to play each other Saturday, there was an added buzz in the air — an electricity that can’t be matched.
“It’s definitely a different feeling,” Darien junior Sarah Jaques said. “Every time we go into this rivalry game, our coach tells us to play this game like we’re playing a regular game, but obviously, everyone is hyped up for the rivalry.”
Jaques said it took toward the middle of the game for the Wave to settle in. Darien eventually pulled in front and held off New Canaan in a wild finish for an 11-10 victory at Dunning Field.
Jaques led the scoring with five goals and junior Ashley Humphrey had four assists for the Blue Wave, which also gained a measure of revenge for last year’s 12-11 loss to New Canaan in the Class L semifinals.
Still, when all was said and done, there was the distinct feeling that this was just round one between the two top-ranked teams in the Connecticut Coaches Top 10 poll.
No. 1 Darien (11-2 overall, 8-0) remained unbeaten against Connecticut opponents, and its two losses were each by one goal to regional powers.
“This is why we have our out-of-state schedule,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “We’ve had two games (Eastport-South Manor and Manhasset) where we lost by one goal and we were right in those games. So in this situation, we’re not panicking. We know we can win a game like this and that is why those games help us in the long run.”
No. 2 New Canaan (10-3, 6-1) has also lost two games to out-of-state powers, and Saturday’s game is its lone Connecticut loss. The Rams had an early 3-1 lead, but a yellow card gave Darien a man advantage and the Wave capitalized with four straight goals to take the lead.
“Any given day,” New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. “Every single game, you’ve to come to play and we just have to make sure we take care of the little things. We were a little frantic at the beginning of the game and that hurt us, but we just have to have a little more composure and come to play again.”
If everything breaks right for the two rivals, they could meet two more times this season. The FCIAC tournament gets under way on May 17, with the first round of the Class L playoffs scheduled for May 28. Currently, Darien is tied for second in the Class L rankings with New Canaan seventh, although there are still several games to play.
Whenever they meet, the buzz and electricity will follow.
“I remember when I was younger, we’d come to the Darien-New Canaan games and it’s inspiring for the whole town,” Jaques said. “This is what you’re going up against, this is what you play for and this is what our town represents.”
TEAMMATES HIT 100
Greenwich has had its share of ace players over the years and they recently celebrated milestones for two of them, as seniors Grace Fahey and Paige Finneran scored their 100th career goals just five days apart.
Fahey hit the century mark as part of a five-goal performance in a 16-6 win over Trumbull on April 25, and Finneran reached 100 goals during a 19-2 victory over Westhill on April 30. Fahey had an assist on Finneran’s milestone goal.
“You can’t even make it up. Grace and I have been playing together since eighth grade,” Finneran told Hearst Connecticut Media’s David Fierro. “I wear No. 2, she wears No. 3 and we’re both lefties. We know how to set each other up and I have gotten used to her knowing my moves.
“She (Fahey) has probably assisted on half of my goals,” Finneran added. “I was so happy that she reached 100 career goals, she was so deserving of it. We began playing on Greenwich Youth Lacrosse travel teams in fourth grade and our parents coached us. It was awesome and it’s been great over the years.”
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE
With five teams suffering their first losses since the start of last week, there’s just one unbeaten team remaining in the state: New Fairfield.
The Rebels (12-0) took care of business Monday night when they knocked off North Branford, 13-6. The two had been the last undefeated teams in Connecticut.
The Rebels, the two-time defending Class S champs who are ranked No. 10 in this week’s Coaches Poll, led 4-2 at halftime and then put it away with a 9-4 advantage in the second half.
There were plenty of weapons for New Fairfield, as Danielle Hernandez scored a game-high four goals, Nicole Berry and Kate Nieves each had hat tricks, Sydney Colesworthy scored twice, Katelyn Sousa had one goal and goalie Rachel Mikolay made six saves.
North Branford (11-1) was led by Jessie Kilburn’s three goals.
Also falling from the unbeaten ranks recently were Canton, Tolland, Pomperaug and Simsbury.
East Catholic (6-5), which has won five straight games, was responsible for two of those knockouts as the Eagles beat Tolland (11-1), by a 15-9 score last Monday, and then edged Canton (10-1) in overtime, 13-12 on Saturday.
The overtime win marked the third straight season in which the East Catholic-Canton game has been decided by one goal. East Catholic won 10-9 in OT last year, and Canton won 14-13 in regulation two seasons ago.
Simsbury (8-2) won its first eight games but lost twice during the past week, first falling to Conard 17-10 on Friday and then to Glastonbury 11-9 on Monday.
In a meeting of ranked teams, No. 9 Pomperaug (11-1-1) suffered its first loss when it fell to No. 8 Ludlowe 13-12 on Saturday in Fairfield.
Darien, the state’s top-ranked team, has two losses this season, but is unbeaten against Connecticut opponents. No. 2 New Canaan has three losses: two against out-of-state opponents and one against Darien. No. 3 Wilton also has three losses, with its only in-state loss being to New Canaan.