Greenwich High

Top-seeded Darien defeated Greenwich in FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Tournament semifinals; Blue Wave unbeaten for season

Photo by Maggie Ybarra: Greenwich’s Kaitlin Kelly makes a move down the field with the ball, while being pursued by Sadie Stafford of Darien during the FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Tournament semifinals at Greenwich High School. Darien won.

Greenwich scored the first goal of the FCIAC Girls Lacrosse Tournament semifinals against undefeated Darien, yet the rest of the game belonged to the Blue Wave, who showed why they are the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

Senior Chloe Humphrey recorded a game-high five goals with two assists, senior Ryan Hapgood had a hat trick, freshman Ana Von Kennel posted three goals and two assists and junior Kelly Holmes tallied twice to power top-seeded Darien to a dominant 16-2 victory over fourth-seeded Greenwich in the semifinal-round of the FCIAC Tournament, held at Cardinal Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Blue Wave raised their record to 17-0 with the triumph and will play rival New Canaan (15-2), the No. 2 seed, in tonight’s 6 p.m. FCIAC final at Greenwich High School. New Canaan has topped Darien for the FCIAC title the past two seasons and the Blue Wave beat the Rams for the conference crown in 2019 – the 2020 season did not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Ybarra: Greenwich midfielder Emma Abbazia sprints down the field with the ball during the FCIAC semifinals against Darien on May 22, 2023, at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich. The Blue Wave posted a 16-2 victory.

On their first possession, the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead when sophomore attack Aubrey Roth converted a low shot with the team running its settled offense with 22:45 to go in the first half. That was the only goal Greenwich would manage to score for a long time against Darien, which played lock-down defense and also flourished on the offensive end of the field.

“We went into more of a pressure defense because they were holding on to the ball so much,” said Darien coach Lisa Lindley, who has guided the team to the FCIAC title game every year since 2011. “Once we settled in on that we caused a few turnovers and we had a successful fast break, we scored four or five goals. We practice that every day, so it was nice to see us put it all together and be successful with it.”

Ryan Hapgood tied the score with a free position goal at the 20:14 mark and Von Kennel tallied in transition off a pass from Humphrey, giving Darien the lead for good at 2-1. Hapgood used her speed to score in transition again and Humphrey showed her elusiveness and shooting accuracy to tally off a dodge putting Darien on top, 4-1.

Photo courtesy of Maggie Ybarra: Greenwich senior MK Savio gets ready on defense for the Cardinals vs. Darien.

The Blue Wave, who posted a 20-8 regular-season win over the Cardinals, kept rolling thereafter. Darien went into halftime holding a comfortable 11-1 advantage.

“Darien, obviously, is super athletic, ranked No. 1 in the country and they outhustled us on loose possessions, 50/50 opportunities,” Greenwich coach Tara Clough said. “We had moments where we stepped up and worked as a team. We didn’t stick to our plan and I’m really looking forward to resetting and moving into the state tournament.”

Junior midfielder Emma Abbazia had a goal for Greenwich, which got six saves from senior goalie Daryl Furno. The Cardinals, who have a record of 10-5, worked hard to defend Darien’s potent offense and ability to tally in transition.

Photo by Maggie Ybarra: Greenwich defender Sophie Roth looks to move the ball in the FCIAC semifinals versus Darien.

Humphrey recorded a game-high five goals with two assists, Ryan Hapgood had a hat trick, Von Kennell posted three goals and two assists and junior Kelly Holmes tallied twice in the winning effort.

“I was happy with the offense, I thought it was well spread out in terms of the scoring,” Lindley said. “Our offense moved the ball well, they shot well, so I was pleased and I thought we did a really good job on the draw.”

Senior Jillian Vaught and junior Sadie Stafford each finished with one goal and one assist, while sophomore Hope Hapgood added a goal for Darien, which received seven saves from junior goalie Hope Schoudel.

Photo by Maggie Ybarra: Greenwich’s Sophia DiPietro makes a move toward the goal against Darien.

Darien’s defensive effort was impressive throughout this conference semifinal-round matchup.

“We’ve been working a lot on defense in practice and I think we’ve come along really well as a unit,” Darien senior defender Morgan Massey said. “We talked really well together and worked really well together.”

Photo courtesy of Maggie Ybarra: Greenwich dropped a 16-2 decision to Darien in the FCIAC Tournament semifinals.

With each passing minute, the Blue Wave built their momentum and proceeded to extend their lead on the Cardinals.

I definitely think it was the draws, we were winning the draws – and the middies getting back on defense too – we had a good rotation,” Darien senior defender Kaci Benoit said. “Working together and causing turnovers, led to fastbreaks. It’s good when we get into a cohesive unit like that, that’s how we win.”

Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Leighton Collier brings the ball down the sideline, while be pursued by Jillian Vaught of Darien in the FCIAC Tournament semifinals, held at Cardinal Stadium in Greenwich on May 22, 2023.

Said Darien junior defender Maggie Bellissimo: “We worked really well together. We’ve been working all season to play as a unit and work well together and caused a lot of turnovers for our offense.”

Photo by David Fierro: Emma Abbazia of Greenwich in action vs. Darien in the FCIAC Tournament.

Greenwich will now look to prepare for the upcoming CIAC Class L Tournament, which begins on Tuesday.

Photo by Maggie Ybarra: Giselle DiPietro of Greenwich in action against Darien.
Photo by David Fierro: Jillian Vaught of Darien makes a move toward the goal against Greenwich in the FCIAC semifinals.
Photo by David Fierro: Greenwich’s Sophie Roth gets ready to receive a pass, while being pursued by Darien’s Chloe Humphrey in the FCIAC Tournament semifinal-round matchup at Cardinal Stadium.

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