Darien Finds Room For Improvement In 16-6 Win Over Ridgefield

Anna Stein scores one of her two goals for Darien. (Photo: Ellie Kravetz)

DARIEN — If one were to offer a visual tutorial of what has helped Darien’s Lisa Lindley build one of the country’s top high school girls lacrosse programs, it would feature fewer postgame celebrations and more moments like the one that happened midway through the first half today against Ridgefield.

After Annie Hage put the Tigers up with a quick goal, the Blue Wave scored eight straight times and seemed to be putting on a flawless display. Lindley’s grading curve, however, is stricter than most others’, and after her team lost possession of the ball, Lindley walked over to her scorekeepers and shouted, “Are you guys keeping track of turnovers?”

Darien rolled to a 16-6 win, improving to 5-2 over all and 4-0 in the FCIAC. Lindley’s postgame talk, as usual, was more measured and not a rah-rah speech.

“There were moments in that game when we did some very nice things and there were some moments when it looked really really ugly,” Lindley said. “And everyone was guilty. We turned it over a lot. It’s not about not making mistakes, it’s about what you do after you make a mistake. Are you hustling, are you getting back in the play, are you sulking? Are you giving up? We want to see 100 percent hustle all the time.”

Darien’s Emma Lesko attempts to maneuver past Ridgefield’s Annie Hage. (Photo: Ellie Kravetz)

After two weeks, the Blue Wave are admittedly still a work in progress. They are counting on more non-seniors than in recent years, and one of them, captain Laura Murphy, will have season-ending surgery tomorrow to repair a torn ACL. Junior Charlotte Harmon, a developing scorer, has been sidelined with the same injury.

“Losing both of them is huge,” Lindley said. “Charlotte was the No. 5 attacker, on line to be fourth, and then Murphy is our senior leader, arguably the best player in the state. We just haven’t found the right combinations yet. We will eventually.”

While Lindley understands there is a thinner margin of error than usual as the Blue Wave attempt to continue streaks of five straight state and four successive league titles, she also knows the assets column is far larger than the debits. Chrissie Fiore finished with five goals, while Anna Stein, Katie Elders, Nicole Humphrey and Maddie Joyce scored two apiece. Stein added two assists.

“I thought we moved the ball well, I thought the defense played very well, they were aggressive, they slid well, Lindley said. “I was very happy with that. I thought Fiore had a great game. She saw the net really well. Stein did well, had some great feeds.”

Ridgefield’s Caroline Curnal (19) and Darien’s Ashley Humphrey battle for a draw. (Photo: Ellie Kravetz)

Emma Lesko, the Blue Wave’s other captain, agreed gaining traction has been a little more of an effort than in recent seasons.

“It takes a few weeks to get into the groove of things and this year especially it is taking a little bit longer to get on our feet,” Lesko said. “We’re doing a really good job and we are getting the sets and the plays in, and figuring what’s working. Girls are still jelling together and a few positions we need to make more solid, and in two weeks we will be ready.”

Ridgefield, which showed some late life by scoring three straight times when down 14-3, is now 2-3 over all.

If there is any frustration, it is that the Blue Wave are 1-2 against teams outside of Connecticut. That record is used as a barometer.

Ridgefield’s Meghan O’Hara is defended by Darien’s Anna Stein. (Photo: Ellie Kravetz)

Lesko sounded after the game as if she earned an A+ grade in Lindley 101.

“I think today was a little bit of a disappointment, and I know that sounds bad and I don’t intend it to be at all,” Lesko said. “We had moments where we played well but we had moments when we played poorly, and that’s why we are losing to out-of-state teams or keeping other teams in the game.”

In one area there is a consensus: though not yet realized, the Blue Wave have the ability to fulfill their potential.

“People need to take start taking more responsibility,” Lindley said. “You have to have someone emerge as a leader. Execute and pick up the slack, basically. Murph was good for five to six goals a game. It can happen. We have the talent. We’ve got to put it all together.”