DARIEN — She is among the best players in the history of one of the state’s premier high school programs, with the ability to play at the very highest collegiate level, yet opted to take the road less traveled.
She took up a new sport to stay in shape for another, achieved outstanding success and had what she said was one of the best experiences of her four years at Darien High School.
But what makes Dillon Schoen such a compelling figure is not just her many achievements but the manner in which they were attained.
“She brings a lot to the table,” said Lisa Lindley, the coach of the Blue Wave’s girls lacrosse team. “It has been a pleasure to have her a part of my program. She’s a very humble kid. She’s all about team success rather than the individual, which is nice. Not many kids are like that these days.”
Lindley, selective in her praise, said Schoen is one of the five best players she has coached.
Perhaps the greatest insight into the three-sport star comes from the decision she made where to next take that talent.
The object of heavy recruiting for lacrosse, Schoen chose not to go to an established program like Duke and instead will be attending Stanford, which is still in its ascendance in the sport, upsetting Notre Dame last year for just its first NCAA Tournament win.
“I was not looking at schools to win a national championship,” Schoen said. “That wasn’t one of my goals. I wanted to go to a school where I know I’d be happy and be in a position for the rest of my life. I felt Stanford would give me a great opportunity for my future.”
Schoen was an athletic prodigy at an early age, playing — and excelling in — everything, before settling on soccer and lacrosse. As a freshman at Darien she decided to take on a third sport, running track in the winter for a familiar reason.
“I wanted to do it to stay in shape,” Schoen said. “I didn’t think I was any good my freshman year. I was kind of naive to the whole thing.”
Schoen won individual championships in the 600 and ran the anchor for a 4×200 relay team with — in order — Anna Sulger, Catherine Lacy and Maddie Schneider that for the last two years was unbeaten in sweeping the FCIAC, Class L, State Open and New England titles.
“I love, love lacrosse, but I think I’ve had the fondest high school memories on the track team,” Schoen said. “It’s such a unique team. I don’t know how to describe it. Lacrosse is my favorite sport, but there is something about track I just love. I don’t know what it is. The coaches happened to find the perfect order. If it was any different I don’t think we would have been as successful. We all had our own roles and strengths.”
Not surprisingly, as a midfielder, Schoen reaped the benefits of an active winter on the track.
“My position in lacrosse, you need so much speed because you’re trying to take the ball from defense to the attacking end like 30 times a game, and transition is so huge in girls lacrosse.” Schoen said.
It certainly has not bothered Lindley that one of her best players is essentially having a pre-preseason.
“She really enjoys track and obviously she is good at it,” Lindley said. “Doing track only helps her with lacrosse, so it is a win-win for me. Dillon is a well-rounded player. A true midfielder. You have to be really good at offense and really good at defense, and she is. You have to have someone, especially in girls lacrosse, who can literally run for 50 minutes, and not just run for 50 minutes but be productive.”
Listening to her explain her decision to attend Stanford can only be described as, well, Schoen-ian.
“It came down to Duke, Princeton and Stanford, and the deciding factor was the coach, players and the school itself. The coach put the least amount of pressure,” said Schoen, referring to the Cardinal’s Amy Bokker. “That was really helpful to me. I visited as a sophomore but I didn’t want to commit early. I was not ready to make a decision. Stanford is more of a rising program. And everyone in my recruiting class is from a different state. There will be people like me but from different parts of the country. That’s why I’m excited.”
Darien finished 21-1 a year ago, winning league and state titles. Lindley said it may have been her best team ever.
Yet Schoen, one of the captains, said there is room for improvement, pointing to the 12-11 overtime loss to Garden City that prevented a perfect season.
“I think we have the potential to be as good if not better,” Schoen said. “We have so many great younger players and a few spots open, but the heart of the team is still here. It’s a fun position to be in because I’m helping to lead an amazing team. We have to carry the tradition on.”
Schoen said whatever happens, the one definite is she will savor the next 10 weeks.
“Senior year has gone by so fast,” she said. “Winter track went by so fast. I have to appreciate all of these moments coming up. We’re going to have such a good season. I’m excited. Hopefully I’ll finish my career on a strong note.”