Girls lacrosse: Darien ousts Warriors in semifinals

Top-seeded Darien used a 4-0 run to put Wilton High girls lacrosse team in a big hole at the end of the first half. Then it used a 5-0 run in the second half to end any hopes the Warriors may have had, en route to a 15-8 win in Tuesday night’s FCIAC semifinals in New Canaan.

The top-seeded Blue Wave (14-3), the three-time defending champs, will play second-seeded New Canaan (15-3) on Thursday at 4 at Brien McMahon High School.

The fifth-seeded Warriors (11-6) will regroup and prepare for next Monday’s Class L state tournament.

The Warriors stayed fairly close to the Blue Wave for most of the first half, and were down by only two goals, 5-3, with just under 11 minutes left in the half.

But the Blue Wave, shooting lights out the entire half, went on a 4-0 run over the final 10 minutes to lead 9-3 at halftime. The Warriors never got closer than four goals after that.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half. We just had some breakdowns defensively and we didn’t really take care of the ball. Credit Darien for that,” said Wilton Head Coach Meredith Meyran. “(Darien) really executed offensively. It’s something we struggled with in the first half. We had just as many opportunities as them, we beat them in draws (8-5), so it wasn’t like we weren’t hanging with them. We had the same amount of opportunities as they did. We just weren’t finishing on ours and they were finishing on theirs, and that was the difference.”

Katie Cronin opened the scoring just over two minutes into the game, but Wilton answered with Makenna Pearsall’s goal to tie it about a minute later, on a beautiful shot under the crossbar from 10 yards out. Laura Murphy scored on a free position to put Darien up for good with 20:48 left in the first half, and Chandler Kirby scooped up a loose ball and took it the length of the field to score, making it 3-1 at 17:41.

Two more goals by Cronin, the second off a beautiful dodge and explosive run, made it 5-1 with 12:06 left in the half.

The Warriors rallied with two goals in a span of 23 seconds — the first by Rebecca Wistreich off a nice feed by Sara Dickinson, and the second off a run to the goal off the draw by Eva Greco.

But Darien halted Wilton’s momentum with a goal just 42 seconds later, when Cronin fired a shot from 10 yards out just inside the right post.

After Darien Samantha Nielsen made back-to-back saves to rob the Warriors, the Blue Wave scored on a spin move by Chandler with 6:30 left, and then on a blistering outside shot by Anna Moorhead with 5:55 left. Mariah Matheis scored with 1:28 left to make it 9-3 at halftime.

Wilton cut the gap to 9-5 early in the second half on goals by Laine Parsons and Wistreich in a span of 11 seconds, but Darien answered with a 5-0 run to go up 14-9 with 9:23 left to play.

“They came out hard and they played hard. Certainly in the first half our shooting was dead on. We had a lot of hard outside shots that definitely were nice rips,” said Darien Head Coach Lisa Lindley. “I thought we had spurts where we played very strong and spurts where we had a few consecutive turnovers, so I really wasn’t happy about that.”

Cronin scored five goals to lead Darien, which also got three goals and two assists from Kirby, and two goals each from Matheis, Moorhead and Gabriella Noto. Murphy also scored, and Moorhead had an assist.

Wistreich led Wilton with three goals, while Pearsall had two goals and Greco, Parsons and Cecily Freliech had one goal each. Dickinson had two assists.

Olivia Phelan finished with seven saves in goal for Wilton. Nielsen had six saves for Darien.