The preseason had a slightly different feeling for the Darien girls lacrosse team this spring.
For the first time in six years, the Blue Wave didn’t have a state championship to defend, having lost to rival New Canaan 12-11 in the 2018 CIAC Class L semifinals. That loss also ended Darien’s streaks of 107 wins against Connecticut opponents and 22 victories in the postseason.
This year’s Blue Wave isn’t looking back.
“Our focus this year is to really start a new dynasty,” said junior Sarah Jaques, one of three returning All-Americans on Darien’s roster.
Early indications are the Blue Wave is just fine moving forward.
Playing in one of its traditional battles against out-of-state powers Saturday, Darien demolished Garden City 19-4 at home. The win featured an eight-goal performance from Jaques, along with three goals and three assists from junior Ashley Humphrey, and two goals and two assists from senior co-captain Nicole Humphrey. The Humphrey sisters are also returning All-Americans.
Last season was unusual for Darien lacrosse, as the boys team lost to Ridgefield 9-8 in the Class L final.
It marked the first time since 2004 the Blue Wave didn’t win at least one state championship in lacrosse.
“It’s redemption season for us and for the boys too,” Ashley Humphrey said. “We’re all motivated and we’re all working so hard in practice. We’ve had longer practices than last year because we’re all just so dedicated to getting the championship back to this town. We all want it. We want it for our coaches, we want it for our fans, and we want it for ourselves.”
“No one likes to lose, but it gives us the opportunity to refocus our priorities, redefine what our goals are, and remember what our traits are that made us successful in the past,” said head coach Lisa Lindley, who is in her 26th season.
“It’s also an opportunity to reset the start button,” the seven-time Connecticut Coach of the Year added. “We hadn’t lost to a Connecticut opponent in 107 games, since 2012, and now that monkey is off our back.”
Now, the Blue Wave players can focus on one game at a time.
“A lot of the upperclassmen, we know what it’s like to be on a winning team and we also know what it’s like to be on the losing side,” Jaques said. “So we all worked really hard together during the offseason and we’re not going to let that happen again.”
FCIAC RULES COACHES POLL
The FCIAC dominated this season’s first state girls lacrosse poll , placing seven teams in the top 10.
Darien, which spent most of last season at No. 1, moved back into the top spot with 133 points and 10 first-place votes. The Blue Wave is off to a 2-0 start this season with wins over Warde and Garden City (NY).
New Canaan, the defending Class L champion, is No. 2 after finishing last year on top of the poll. The Rams, received two first-place votes and 126 points overall, clobbered Yorktown (NY) on Saturday, 12-2, and is 3-0.
The first non-FCIAC team in the poll is Cheshire, which took the No. 3 spot with 92 points. Cheshire also had one first-place vote.
After the top three are three more FCIAC teams: No. 4 Wilton, No. 5 Staples, No. 6 Ludlowe. Staples, which was unranked in the final poll last season, had one of the biggest wins of the young season when it knocked off perennial league power Greenwich 16-10 on opening day.
Glastonbury is No. 7 with Conard at No. 8, followed by two more FCIAC teams: No. 9 Ridgefield and No. 10 Greenwich.
Sarah Jaques, Darien: One of three returning All-Americans for the Blue Wave, Jaques scored eight goals on eight shots in Darien’s 19-4 rout of Garden City . The junior attack also dished out a pair of assists.
Kyle Kirby, Staples: The senior had six goals, two assists and 13 draw controls during the Wreckers’ 16-10 win over Greenwich in the season-opener. She also had five goals and two assists against Warde in Staples’ second game.
Shira Parower, Staples: Sophomore attack tallied six goals and three assists in the 16-10 season-opening win against Greenwich.
Caroline Schuh, New Canaan: Senior co-captain and defender caused seven turnovers when the Rams won 12-2 at Yorktown (NY). Also had five ground balls, and led a stifling defensive effort which saw New Canaan shut out the Huskers in the second half.
Olivia Gianakos, Waterford: Gianakos racked up 12 goals as Waterford defeated Valley Regional, 20-12, on April 5.
Annie Uyeki, North Haven: The All-State senior scored five goals and had one assist as the Indians opened the season with an 11-10 overtime win against Amity on Tuesday, April 2. Three days later, Uyeki had seven goals and two assists in a 20-14 victory against Hamden.
Morgan Reilly, Bunnell: Reilly, a sophomore, had six goals and one assist in the Bulldogs’ 11-7 win over Foran on Thursday, April 4.
Samantha Forrest, Glastonbury: The sophomore netted nine goals in the Tomahawks’ 14-7 victory against Joel Barlow on Saturday.
Alexis DeLucia, Montville: The junior surpassed the 100-goal mark for her career when she scored nine goals in the Indians’ 17-6 win over NFA on March 30
GAMES TO WATCH
Daniel Hand at Staples (Ginny Parker Field), Thurs., 5:30 p.m.: Staples has kicked off its season with wins against Rye, Greenwich and Warde. The Wreckers face another test against perennial SCC power Daniel Hand, last year’s Class M runner-up.
Newtown at New Fairfield, Thurs., 6 p.m.: A clash of the last two SWC champions. Newtown, the 2017 league champ, defeated New Fairfield 9-6 last year at Blue and Gold Stadium, but the Rebels followed with a seven-game win streak, sweeping the SWC and Class S titles.
Westhampton Beach, NY, at New Canaan (Dunning Field), Friday, 6 p.m.: New Canaan’s third out-of-state contest in six days. The Hurricanes defeated the Rams 9-8 in OT last year.
Longmeadow, Mass., at Greenwich (Cardinal Stadium), Monday, 4:30 p.m.: The Cardinals are looking to right the ship after opening the season with three straight losses. This is the first of three FCIAC opponents for the Lancers, who play at New Canaan on April 20, and host Darien May 13.
Greenwich at Wilton (Lilly Field), Wed, 6 p.m.: The first meeting of the FCIAC’s “Big Four” this season. Last year’s meeting went to Wilton, 12-11 overtime, at Cardinal Stadium.