Girls Lacrosse

Girls Lacrosse Preview: New Canaan, Darien Heavy Favorites

New Canaan is counting on the play of veterans like Jane Charlton. (Mark Conrad)

The Darien-New Canaan girls lacrosse rivalry — cliche alert — is always closely contested, but this spring it could actually go up a notch. First, with the Rams now in Class L they each are holding a title the other covets. Second, both teams are deep with veteran playmakers.

Wilton is hoping to get overlooked, while Ridgefield and Greenwich are no strangers to playoff races.

The Favorites

New Canaan. After a series of heartbreaking losses, the Rams finally got the best of rival Darien last spring, a 12-11 state semifinal decision that was a prelude to the championship. The final, a 19-7 rout of Ridgefield, proved a coronation.

The Rams have graduated a number of key players but also return a deep lineup that has both the skill and confidence to make a run at the FCIAC as well as a second straight CIAC title.

New Canaan has playmakers all over the field, starting with Caroline O’Dea in goal and moving up to Caroline Schuh on defense, Jane Charlton and McKenna Harden at midfield and Campbell Connors on attack.

This will be one of the Rams’ most athletic teams, with a number of multi-sport starters.

Darien. The Blue Wave will have a rare chip on their shoulders this spring. After winning a seventh straight conference championship, they saw a run of five successive state titles and incredible streak of 107 in-state wins ended by the Rams.

The Blue Wave will be a handful to stop, with Ashley Humprey, Sara Jaques and Shea van den Broek leading the attack. In Nicole Humphrey Maddie Joyce and Katie Elders, they will also have three of the state’s top midfielders.

The defense is a little less experienced but still an area of strength.

Team speed will be another advantage for Darien, which again has a challenging non-league schedule. Darien will face New Canaan on May 4, which could easily be the first of three meetings.

Nicole Humphrey is one of Darien’s explosive midfielders. (Mark Conrad)

The Contenders 

Wilton. If you want to roll the dice on a team outside of Darien or New Canaan taking home some hardware, the Warriors are your best bet. Bridgette Wall, who shared the position last season, is back in goal. The Warriors have a solid 1-2 punch at midfield with Julia Skillin and Carly Sullivan. A healthy Sophie Sudano will bolster the attack.

The Warriors have a number of players back who have been part of their rotation. The rate of maturity for the newcomers to the starting lineup could dictate how far the team goes.

Ridgefield. After advancing to their first league final two years ago, the Tigers played in the state championship for the first time last spring. A number of starters graduated but there are still a number of solid players, led by Caitlin Slaminko at midfield. Slaminko will be joined by Aly Gagnon. Lexi Held is experienced in goal, while Maeve Tobin is the leader of the defense.

The Sleeper

Greenwich. Rachel Vallarelli takes over as the Cardinals’ coach. She will be counting on the play of Paige Finneran at midfield, Olivia Caan on defense and Sloane Loveless in goal.

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Wilton’s attack is led by Sophie Sudano. (Photo: Mark Conrad)

20 Players To Watch

Olivia Caan, Greenwich
Jane Charlton, New Canaan
Campbell Connors, New Canaan
Katie Elders, Darien
Elle Fair, Staples
Paige Finneran, Greenwich
McKenna Harden, New Canaan
Ashley Humphrey, Darien
Nicole Humphrey, Darien
Sarah Jaques, Darien
Maddie Joyce, Darien
Kyle Kirby, Staples
Sloane Loveless, Greenwich
Caroline O’Dea, New Canaan
Caroline Schuh, New Canaan
Julia Skillin, Wilton
Caitlin Slaminko, Ridgefield
Sophie Sudano, Wilton
Carly Sullivan, Wilton
Bridgette Wall, Wilton

The Lineups

Darien: Attack: Ashley Humphrey, Sarah Jaques, Shea van den Broek, Mason Maloney, Kit Arrix, Molly McGuckin; Midfield: Nicole Humphrey Maddie Joyce, Katie Elders, Jordan Vaught, Ceci Stein, Shannon Dahlquist; Defense: Eva Finn, Catie Duggan, Nelle Kniffen, Kate Bellisimo; Goalie: Maggie Brooks, Kennison Harmon, Shea Dolce.

Fairfield Ludlowe: Attack: Taylor Herron, Chloe Madzio, Bridget O’Brien, Callie Cirilli, Hannah Kleinbeck; Midfield: Paloma Meehan, Ashley Moynahan, Caroline Sullivan, Quinlyn Shannehan; Defense: Maddie Herron, Ellen Kelly, Anna Paulmann, Sadie Bernstein; Goalie: Georgia Hoey.

Fairfield Warde: Goalie: Abby King; Defense: Bridget Flanagan, Isabella Giacomazza, Tess McIntosh, Kaitlyn Walsh; Midfield: Claire Cherniske, Clare Kuczo, Caleigh Walklet, Caroline Aufiero, Katherine Risley; Attack: Cassie Llewellyn, Madison Markham Greta Secrist, Grace Dougherty.

Greenwich: Attack: Grace Fahey, Leah Caputo, Kate Loughran, Delaney Roth, Jen Kelly, Gabi Cerza, Dani Cerza; Midfield: Paige Finneran, Katie Large, Cameron Castelli, Carly Andruss, Grace Collier, Maddy Slattery, Alyx Carifa, Sasha Trieb, KK Feurman; Defense: Olivia Caan, Olivia Hoekman, Meg Keller, Jess Ware, Emma Norton, Kate Ochoa, Zoe Metalios; Courtney Swift; Goalie: Sloane Loveless, Hailey Hires, Kaleigh Jackson.

New Canaan: Goalie: Caroline O’Dea; Defense: Nora Belodeau, Catherine Bopp, Liz Demarino, Natalie Lopez, Caroline Schuh, Katelyn Sparks; Midfield: Jane Charlton, Kaleigh Harden, McKenna Harden, Kendall Patten; Attack: Lauren Bisceglia, Campbell Connors, Dillyn Patten.

Norwalk: Attack: Lily L’Archevesque, Cecilia Clyne, Lia L’Archevesque, Simi Goodchild; Midfield: Julia Vaccaro, Sara Spielman; Kiley Opalinski; Defense: Sofia Imbrogno, Lauren Deering, Brianna Cruz.

Ridgefield: Attack: Abby Winkler, Maeve Tobin, Hannah Boylan; Midfield:  Riley Peters, Caitlin Slaminko, Aly Gagnon; Defense: Joanna Gengo, Sammy Lehaney, Ellie O’Connor, Faith Arnold, Bella Carrozza; Goalie: Lexi Held.

St. Joseph: Attack: Isabelle Casucci, Lilia Ivanovich, Kylie Lucifora, Annie McNeil; Midfield: Ryan Camiglio, Jettke Gray, Bela Yoguez; Defense: Tathiana Cortes, Mia Geignetter, Avery Malone, Ana Nogueira; Goalie: Erin Owens.

Stamford: Attack: Julia Chapell, Melanny Sanchez Alvarez, Kaily Young, CarlyDiamond; Defense: Dina Merone, Widline Thomas, Megan Landsiedel, Lia Chichester; Midfield: Olivia LaBella,Tamia James, Alana Goldhaber.

Staples: Defense: Samantha Pacilio, Alexa Myself, Julia Diconza, Midfield: Kathleen Cozzi, Elle Fair, Kyle Kirby, Meghan Nealo, Emma Ashe; Attack: Marisa Shorrock, Jane Lukens, Shira Parower, Charlotte Barnes.

Trumbull: Goalie: Olivia Osterberg; Defense: Caroline SanAngelo, Clare Siebold, Tara Burns, Caroline Pagliaro, Jada Burton, Sophie Leeds, Olivia Grecco; Midfield: Nicole Devito, Joanna Pirog, Lauren Buck, Keira Grant, Callan Vaughn; Attack: Jessica Salgado, Ali Coppola, Delaina Bellows, Josie Magnotti.

Westhill: Attack, Michaela DePreta, Emily Reid, Maura Johnston, Julia Cooney, Margot Buckey; Grace Hansen, Audra Hansen, Bella Vaccaro, Georgia Colegrave, Peyton Hackett; Defense: Lupe Tamayo, Ginamarie Melia, Lauren Klym, Abby Sottile, Katelyn Benner, Melanie Montalvo.

Wilton: Goalie: Bridgette Wall, Tate Paulson; Defense: Delia Freliech, Meghan Lane, Delaney Liston, Cassidy Costello; Midfield: Olivia Gladstein, Julia Skillin, Carly Sullivan, Janet Johnson, Kira Howard, Gwynn Sullivan, Morgan Lebek; Attack: Sophie Sudano, Anna Sherman.

(Teams missing did not respond to repeated requests for information)