Darien tops New Canaan to reclaim Class L girls lacrosse championship

New Canaan's Dillyn Patten looks for room to operate while Darien's Maddie Joyce defends during the CIAC Class L girls lacrosse final Saturday at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. — Christian Abraham/Hearst Connecticut Media
New Canaan's Dillyn Patten looks for room to operate while Darien's Maddie Joyce defends during the CIAC Class L girls lacrosse final Saturday at Jonathan Law High School in Milford. — Christian Abraham/Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — Over the past few seasons, the New Canaan Rams have been the lone Connecticut girls lacrosse teams to find a way to defeat the Darien Blue Wave.

But while a victory over the Wave led to a state championship last spring, a repeat was not on the menu for 2019.

Darien delivered a near-perfect performance and rolled to a 12-6 victory over rival New Canaan in the CIAC Class L final at Jonathan Law High School in Milford on Saturday afternoon.

New Canaan held an early 2-1 lead, but Darien scored the next six goals to take control of the game.

It was a tough loss for the fourth-seeded Rams (18-5), who were unbeaten in-state with the exception of three losses to Darien. New Canaan will finish the season ranked No. 2 in the Connecticut Coaches Poll.

“We didn’t play the full 50 minutes and against Darien you’ve got to play the full 50 minutes,” New Canaan coach Kristin Woods said. “I’m bummed for my seniors. Everybody could’ve played a little bit better today, but we just didn’t.”

With the victory, Darien reclaimed the state title after losing to New Canaan, 12-11, in the semifinals last year. New Canaan went on to beat Ridgefield 17-9 in the final, while the Wave had a five-year run as state champs come to an end.

Beating the rival Rams in the final made the win even better for the Wave.

“It just makes it that much sweeter,” Darien senior co-captain Katie Elders said. “This is one of the most talented and close teams that we’ve had in a while and we really were sticking to the tradition of Blue Wave girls lacrosse. We have the depth, we have the skill and we have the passion and we really put all of that together today.”

The state championship is the 10th in program history for second-seeded Darien (21-2), which has now won in its last 10 trips to the finals.

Sophomore McKenna Harden scored twice to lead the Rams’ scoring, and seniors Lauren Bisceglia and Campbell Connors, along with freshmen Kaleigh Harden and Dillyn Patten, each had one goal, and senior Kendall Patten had one assist.

Darien had seven players score and 10 of the 12 goals were assisted.

Ashley Humphrey and Shea van den Broek each had a hat trick, and Humphrey added one assist, while Sarah Jaques, Elders and Maddie Joyce each had one goal and two assists.

Senior Nicole Humphrey, who had missed the last 11 games with an injury, returned for the state final and scored twice, including Darien’s final goal in the last minute. Her return to the lineup was an added emotional boost for the Blue Wave.

“She brought everyone’s level up and they were psyched, but also she’s a solid player,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “She’s an all-American. I was happy that she got in and that she contributed, and that’s just another player that (New Canaan) had to worry about.”

The Rams led 2-1 after goals from Patten and Bisceglia in the first five minutes, but the Wave scored the next six goals over a span of 22 minutes to gain control.

Elders, Eva Finn, Catie Duggan, Nelle Kniffin and Kate Bellissimo led a defensive effort which did a great job forcing the Rams into difficult shots.

Down 7-2 early in the second, the Rams’ McKenna Harden and Connors scored back-to-back goals, but the Wave responded with three straight — two from Ashley Humphrey and one from Nicole Humphrey — for a 10-4 advantage.

But the Rams didn’t go away, getting goals from Kaleigh and McKenna Harden to cut the deficit to 10-6.

“All the middies did a great job on the draw circle,” Woods said. “I think offensively we could’ve protected our sticks better — they had a few backchecks that hurt us. And we’ve got to shoot better. Our shots weren’t the best. It’s always about improving and getting better and hopefully next year, we’ll be right back here.”

Darien was able to possess the ball in the final eight minutes, chewing up the clock and limiting New Canaan’s opportunities.

Van den Broek completed her hat trick with 4:05 remaining, and Nicole Humphrey put the icing on the cake with a goal in the final minute.

With the postgame celebration, the Blue Wave had finally put all of its season goals in the books.

“This is awesome — FCIAC and state champions,” Elders said. “We really did all that we wanted to do this season. I think it really proves how close we were on and off the field. That really helped us get the victories each time.”




New Canaan  2 4 - 6

Darien             6 6 - 12

Scoring: New Canaan: McKenna Harden 2g; Dillyn Patten 1g; Kaleigh Harden 1g; Lauren Bisceglia 1g; Campbell Connors 1g; Kendall Patten 1a; Darien: Ashley Humphrey 3g, 1a; Shea van den Broek 3g; Sarah Jaques 1g, 2a; Katie Elders 1g, 2a; Maddie Joyce 1g, 2a; Nicole Humphrey 2g; Molly McGuckin 1g; Jordan Vaught 1a; Charlotte Wittstock 1a; Goalies: NC - Caroline O’Dea 5 saves; D - Shea Dolce 3 saves; Maggie Brooks 0 saves; Records: New Canaan 18-5; Darien 21-2