NORWALK — The Darien High School girls lacrosse team was unable to summon its A game, but a B-plus effort was good enough to carry it to a third straight conference title.
Hollis Perticone finished with 4 goals and 2 assists and Dillon Schoen added 3 goals to lead the Blue Wave to a 9-7 win over Wilton in the FCIAC championship game Friday at Brien McMahon.
“We were really happy to come away with the win,” said Schoen, who was named the most valuable player. “It wasn’t as clean as we wanted it to be. We did what we wanted to do and at the end of the day we’re the champions and we’re really happy about that.”
Darien (17-2) won a record 13th league title and remained unbeaten in-state this season.
After Charlotte Noels scored the first of her 3 goals for second-seeded Wilton (15-4), Perticone converted a free possession, starting a run of four successive scores for Darien.
Wilton cut the deficit to 4-3 on a goal by Laura Knapp with 11:30 left in the first half, but Schoen and Perticone scored in the final 14 seconds and the Blue Wave were never again threatened.
“I thought we had a ton of turnovers,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “I don’t know if it was due to nerves or what not. We executed when we had to and we kept a cushion. Overall, our defense was extremely tough. I thought they had a difficult time breaking our zone.”
It was a coronation for the team’s four senior captains: Schoen, Perticone and Emily Stein, who formed one of the best midfield lines in state history, and defender Ellie Bennett.
“It feels awesome since it’s our final year,” said Stein, who finished with 1 goal and 2 assists. “It’s bittersweet. I don’t want to leave but it feels really great to win. I think what’s so special about our team is if someone has a bad game, someone else will pick them up. I don’t think anyone had a bad game, but this shows how deep we are.”
Hannah Wiltshire played well in goal, making 10 saves for the Warriors, whose lone state losses are to Darien, including 13-8 during the regular season.
Shannon Quinlan’s goal on a free possession just over nine minutes into the second half cut Wilton’s deficit to just two goals.
But Schoen finished off a nice run with a score and Mariah Matheis converted a pass from Perticone to build the Blue Wave’s lead back to 8-4.
Wilton’s Makenna Pearsall made the score 8-5 with 10:28 remaining before Perticone used a quick one-touch shot off a nifty feed from Stein for a four-goal lead.
Wilton scored a pair of goals late.
“Even though we were up 9-6 it felt really close,” Schoen said. “When we got that yellow card we had to play very tight on defense. We had to go into our six-man zone and not let them shoot, not let them have an opening.
“This is a lot more special being a senior,” added Schoen, comparing her three league titles. “I’ve been with the four captains since my freshman year and it’s really awesome to finish off my FCIAC career in a really great way.”
Despite heavy graduation losses from a team that won league and state titles and lost just once last season, the Blue Wave remained saddled with heavy expectations.
“This team had a lot if pressure on itself because of the success last year and they wanted to make sure they carried on the tradition,” Lindley said. “They didn’t want to be the team that didn’t come away with the championship.”