Fairfield Warde’s girls’ lacrosse team might have been the sixth-seeded squad in the Class L state tournament bracket, but with all said and done, the Mustangs are the second-best squad. Warde marched through three rounds of play to the pinnacle game, before falling 12-5 to four-time champion and top-seeded Darien, at neutral site Jonathan Law High in Milford, on June 11.
“It’s a big thing for our program to reach this point,” said Warde coach Tom Davis, whose squad was eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs last spring.
The Mustangs went 11-4-1 during the regular season, posting nine double-digit scoring outbursts along the way. They proceeded to defeat No. 11 Stamford 9-2, No. 3 Conard 10-9, and No. 7 Greenwich 11-10 in the state tournament bracket.
Despite falling behind 9-2 at halftime against Darien, the Mustangs never gave up. Libby McKenna netted one of her four goals in the contest — Olivia Seymour had the other Warde tally — to make it a 10-5 game with 9:55 left.
Warde kept pushing and goaltender Rebekah Snitkoff (seven saves) made some outstanding stops on in-close Darien chances, giving the Mustangs hope until the final minutes.
“In the second half we played ’em even, 3-3. I’m really proud of the girls — they kept fighting,” Davis said. “It’s undeniable that they put all of their heart into it.”
Darien lost only one game this season, and that was an out-of-state battle with Notre Dame Academy of Massachusetts.
Warde captain Amanda Orvis said, despite the loss, she wouldn’t have wanted for anything other than the chance to face the state’s best in the title game.
“I couldn’t ask for any other way to end it. This is the best way,” Orvis said.
Davis said the Mustangs grabbed the attention of doubters and felt only his team members thought they could do as well as they did this campaign.
“We’re really proud. We knew this was going to be a great team. We have good team chemistry and we play hard,” captain Hannah Dougherty added.
The Mustangs’ explosive offense was led by McKenna and Courtney Scheetz. The defense, which held opponents to five or fewer goals six times this campaign, was a team effort backed by Snitkoff.
Warde will lose Clare Secrist, Laura Jacob and Caroline Ihlefeld, in addition to the captains and Snitkoff, to graduation.
“I’m going to miss the seniors. They were a special group this year,” Davis said. “They just held the team together in the good times and in the bad times.”