Girls lacrosse: Darien holds off Warriors in state finals, 14-10

Controlling the early draw controls, patiently running its offense, and scoring on four of its first five shots, the Wilton High girls lacrosse team led Darien 4-1 just over 10 minutes into Saturday’s Class L state championship game.

So far, so good.

But Wilton coach Meredith Meyran knew that Darien would storm back at some point — and it did, seizing control with a 5-0 run, and the Blue Wave never trailed again en route to a 14-10 win at Bunnell High School in Stratford.

“Darien’s always going to come back, no matter what. You can’t get up enough goals on them,” said Meyran. “We didn’t let up defensively or anything like that. They just started converting on more of their shots.

“They don’t stop,” she said of Darien. “They don’t have a weak point. Their girls are so fast, and so skilled, and so driven, and any time you play them you have to be prepared to bring your best.”

Wilton (14-7) was led by Rebecca Wistreich with three goals and Sara Dickinson and Laine Parsons with two goals each, with single goals from Eva Greco, Makenna Pearsall and Cecily Freliech. Lilla Seymour had two assists and Dickinson one assist.

Darien (20-3), which won its third straight Class L title, got four goals each from Anna Moorhead and Gabriella Noto, while Susannah Ropp and Chandler Kirby each had two goals. Kaeleigh Morrill and Mariah Matheis also scored

Kirby had two assists, with one assist each by Moorhead, Katherine Cronin and Katie Ramsey.

It was Wilton’s third loss of the season to Darien, but by far the most competitive of the three games.

“We felt like we were in this game to the very end. We were not going to stop, no matter what the score was,” said Coach Meyran.

The Warriors were down only one, 7-6, with 17 minutes left, after Dickinson worked her way into the crease, pivoted to the right and put a beautiful shot into the far top corner of the goal. Darien came right back, scoring three times in a span of a minute — with goals by Ropp, Noto and Kirby — to extend the lead to 10-6 with 15:10 left.

Another goal by Noto made it 11-6 with 10:46 left, but Wilton answered with two goals in a span of 16 seconds, with goals by Freliech and Wistreich (on fast break, on a beautiful feed by Seymour), to make it 11-8 with 9:13 to go.

Wilton never got closer than three down the stretch, however, despite several possession where they had a chance to cut the lead to two.

Darien finished the game with 23 shots to Wilton’s 19, and had a 21-15 edge in shots on goal. Both goalies came up with some key saves in the second half. Wilton’s Olivia Phelan finished the game with eight saves and Darien’s Samantha Nielsen made five saves.

Wilton came out extremely patient on offense to start the game, passing the ball around the perimeter and not forcing anything. Despite Wilton controlling the ball for all of the first three minutes, it was Darien that scored first when Morrill found the net 3:18 into the game.

Wilton came back with a 4-0 run, with two goals each by Dickinson and Wistreich, who fired a bullet under the crossbar from 10 yards out on a free position to make it 4-1 with 14:34 left in the first half.

Darien finally got on track with 10 minutes left in the half when Noto scored in front off an excellent setup by Kirby, and scored just 12 seconds later to cut the lead to 4-3, after Ramsay won the draw,  took the ball down the field and passed to a wide-open Moorhead for the goal.

Moorhead then tied things up, 4-4, with 8:28 left in the half, and Kirby gave her team the lead, 5-4, by converting on a free position shot with 5:32 left in the half.

Darien upped the lead to 6-4 with 1:31 left in the half thanks to a tremendous play by Cronin, who checked the ball away from a Wilton player at midfield, got the groundball and carried the ball to the cage, setting up Matheis for a wide-open shot.

Parsons ended Wilton’s 14-minute scoring drought with a goal with 21 seconds left, ending the first half with Darien holding a 6-5 lead.

Both team had chances early in the second half, before Ropp scored for Darien to make it 7-5 with 20:38 left to play. When Cronin scored with 17:41 left, it appeared that Darien was pulling away at 8-5. But Wilton requested a stick check and it was ruled to be illegal, negating the goal.

The Warriors then answered with a goal by Dickinson, making it 7-6, before the Blue Wave began to pull away.

“I’m proud of our team because this is the best lacrosse we’ve played all season. We played together, we supported one another,” said Meyran of her team. “We continued to get better all season, and that’s all you can ask for. They worked so hard and they deserved to be here. We competed with Darien, and I think we took it to them.”

Notes: The Warriors won 15 of 24 draw controls, led by Pearsall (five), Parsons (four) and Paisley Eagan (three). Wistreich, Seymour and Greco each had one draw control.

Pearsall led the Warriors with three groundballs, while Eagan had two and Wistreich, Seymour, Greco, Parsons, Freliech, Casey Tucker and Mel Boehme each had one groundball.

Pearsall and Eagan each caused two turnovers, with one caused turnover each by Freliech and Boehme.