DARIEN — Five days after a second-half lapse turned a decisive lead into a too-close-for-comfort win over Greenwich, the Darien girls lacrosse team found itself on Thursday with a 7-3 halftime lead over Wilton, perhaps its main obstacle to another FCIAC title.
“It’s something we always talk about, finishing,” Blue Wave coach Lisa Lindley.
Relying on a play called Tarzan, which is noted for the maneuverings of middies Hollis Perticone and Emily Stein but whose name Lindley admitted was nonsensical, Perticone scored a pair of early goals to start the final half and Darien withstood a brief comeback for an impressive 13-8 win.
“We knew they were going to be our strongest opponent in state so it was important for us to have a big game,” Lindley said. “We’ve been practicing kind of flat and Greenwich was a debacle.”
The Blue Wave (11-1, 8-0 FCIAC) fell behind by four goals early, scored 12 in a row but then had to hold on for a 17-15 win over the Cardinals. But Darien, including a win over New Canaan, has now defeated its three biggest conference rivals in seven days.
“We still haven’t put 50 minutes together where we’ve played great,” Lindley said.
That was a common theme from Lindley and her captains after the game, but it is also an intimidating prospect for opponents if attained.
Stein was brilliant for Darien, scoring on five of her six shots and adding two assists. Four of her goals came in the first half.
“Possession was huge for us,” Lindley said. “I thought Emily had a huge shooting percentage today. She did very well burying her goals to get us a lead.”
Perticone finished with three goals and two assists, while Caroline Benitez added two goals and two assists and Mariah Matheis scored twice. Dillon Schoen finished with a goal and an assist but left the game in the final minutes with an elbow injury.
Stein proved as efficient setting up her teammates for praise afterward as she was sharing the ball during the game.
“I think it was a team effort, it wasn’t anything that I did special,” Stein said. “I got great feeds. Our plays were really well executed. The main thing was the draw.”
Wilton (10-2, 7-1) led just once, at 2-1 on Shannon Quinlan’s goal, but Darien answered with five straight goals. Wilton was behind, 11-4, before scoring three successive times. The Warriors, whose rally was fueled by draw controls, almost made the game really interesting, but Darien goaltender Kyra Gardner, in part of an outstanding performance, robbed Laura Knapp on an uncontested shot and again on the rebound.
“I was just very determined to keep the ball out of the goal any way I could,” Gardner said.
Perticone secured the outcome with 3:23 remaining, finishing a feed from Chandler Kirby.
Knapp and Laine Parsons each scored twice for Wilton. Makenna Pearsall added one goal and two assists.
“I just think we didn’t execute,” Wilton coach Meredith Meyran said. “I don’t think it was momentum in this game. We had as many opportunities as they did, we just didn’t finish.”
Meyran said the Warriors would regroup for their final four regular season games and the postseason, which could include a rematch with Darien.
“We played really hard and have a couple of things we will go back and work on, but we will get better,” she said.
Stein said the Blue Wave would adopt a similar mindset. They play at Suffern on Saturday.
“It’s a huge win for us, but there is still a lot we can work on where we play a whole game 100 percent,” Stein said. “There are spurts where we play well and spurts where we’re not winning the ball.”