DARIEN—Having won the last five Class L state championships, one of the toughest tasks for the Darien girls lacrosse team is keeping the fire in its belly burning.
Motivating players to stay hungry can be difficult when everyone expects you to win every time out as No. 1 Darien learned against No. 9 Ludlowe in the Class L quarterfinals Thursday afternoon.
The Falcons hung with the Blue Wave in the first half before Darien pulled away over the final 25 minutes, escaping with a 15-8 win.
Darien will face the winner of No. 4 Wilton and No. 5 New Canaan in the semifinals Tuesday at a neutral site.
Darien coach Lisa Lindley said if her players think that other teams are going to roll over just from seeing “Blue Wave” across their chests, the title streak will be in serious jeopardy.
“I think it is harder (to motivate the players) because the kids fall into a false sense of ‘this is just going to happen.’ Today was an excellent example of that. We can’t think that all we have to do is step on the field and we are going to win,” Lindley said.
“Clearly, Ludlowe wanted it today more than us and they out-played us in the first half. This was probably the worst played game for a Darien team in 15 years. In terms of dropped balls, laziness, all across the board. I wasn’t happy and if we don’t change things, we are going to get destroyed on Tuesday. The seniors need to lead by example and they need to take control.”
The teams were tied 5-5 with 9:07 to play in the first half before Darien closed the half on a 4-0 run.
Ludlowe was led by offensive spark plug Olivia D’Eramo, who scored a game-high 5 goals, also adding two assists.
D’Eramo and the Falcons felt like they had nothing to lose, having advanced further than they ever have and taking on the No. 1 team in the state.
“A lot of it was taking the pressure off and knowing that Ludlowe has never been this far in the state tournament. We just didn’t want to back down, that was it. If you come fired up, you move the ball fast and you control the game,” Ludlowe coach Amanda Mastera said. “(D’Eramo) is sick. She is really good at switching hands and dodging players. She is a phenomenal all-around midfielder but we are losing her because she is a senior.”
Darien was paced by four goals from Ashley Humphrey and three each from Nicole Humphrey and Katie Ramsay.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Katie Ramsay, Darien. Not only did Ramsay tally three goals, she also dominated draws when she took them, keeping Darien in possession of the ball for most of the second half.
“Since we were little kids playing house lacrosse, we always look up to the girls on the high school team and being on the team is such an honor. It is really important to all of us to keep the legacy going and make sure we do win FCIACs and we do win states and we are that championship team that we have always been taught to be,” Ramsay said. “We had some troubles today in the first half but in the second half we were playing more as a team. In the first half, we were trying to fast break a lot but in the second half we were listening to what (Lindley) said and try to go through our plays and that helped us.”
DARIEN 15, LUDLOWE 8
LUDLOWE 5 3—8
DARIEN 9 6—15
Records: L—11-6-0; D—15-2-0
Goals: L—Olivia D’Eramo 5, Chloe Madzio 2, Melissa Bucher; D—Ashley Humphrey 4, Katie Ramsay 3, Nicole Humphrey 3, Chrissie Fiore 2, Charlotte Wittstock 2, Nellie Kniffen
Assists: L—D’Eramo 2; D—A. Humphrey 2, Shea Van den Broek 2
Goalies: L—Grace Fink 10 saves; D—Maggie Brooks 7 saves