NEW CANAAN — It has been five years and 11 days since the New Canaan girls lacrosse team last defeated Darien.
That has been cause enough for frustration. Compounding the disappointment the last two years has been the manner in which the Rams have lost. In three of the last four games, including the two most recent FCIAC championships, the Blue Wave have used late rallies to deny their border rival.
So when Braeden Dial scored with 6:14 remaining in regulation to give New Canaan a 10-7 lead in the teams’ match today, there was no sense of complacency by the Rams or panic by the Blue Wave.
“That’s a testament to our culture and what Darien is all about, never giving up,” Darien coach Lisa Lindley said. “I don’t think we’re ever fazed being down. It was just a matter of getting possession and having a chance to shoot and score.”
In what seemed like a rerun that ranged the emotional spectrum, depending which sideline you were positioned on, the Blue Wave scored three straight goals, including a pair by Emma Lesko 38 seconds apart in the last 1:03 of regulation, to tie the score.
Emma Jaques then scored with 1:26 left in the second overtime to give Darien a dramatic 11-10 win.
Lesko, who finished with 3 goals, said she felt the onus to try and help rally her team.
“I think I have been struggling this year being a leader on offense and I realized I need to take ownership of that and really take the games into my own hands, and that meant scoring a goal myself,” Lesko said. “You just need to put it in the back of the net and I have really been focusing on my shooting, so it’s exciting that I could come out and kind of showcase all the work that I have been putting into that.”
Chrissy Fiore started the comeback and led the Blue Wave (8-3, 6-0) with 5 goals.
“Chrissie Fiore really stepped up and carried the attack on her back,” Lindley said.
Ashley Humphrey scored twice for the Blue Wave, who ran their in-state winning streak to 40 games.
Asked if she could account for the reason the recent meetings have rarely deviated from the same script, Lesko said, “I think this is a really hard game for us. This is the most mentally challenging game we face each year because it is such a big game. It is so hard to come out to play your best when you have these nerves and you want to win so badly. Sometimes we just get down on these games. You really saw our heart there. No one was giving up.”
New Canaan Kristin Woods had many positives to take away, save for the one she most coveted. Campbell Armstrong scored 4 goals and Dial added 3 in a diversified attack. The Rams had a long run of their own, overcoming a 6-3 deficit with six straight goals.
“It was a great game, Darien came out hard, I thought we had the momentum swing in the second half, our kids kind of lost composure at the end and that’s something they have to learn,” Woods said. “We have a lot of young kids out there. Darien did a great job. I’m so proud of our defense. I thought they played extraordinary against their attack. There were a lot of good things.”
Both goaltenders — Darien’s Carly Schoudel and New Canaan’s Caroline O’Dea — traded big saves at the end of regulation and the first overtime — to extend the game and give their teams the chance to win.
New Canaan is now 7-3 over all and 6-1 in league play.
“We played an ugly game today,” Lindley said. “We had a ton of turnovers, really youth, inexperienced decisions out there. We were totally lucky to come out of this game with a win. I thought New Canaan played well. We are going to have to play a much tighter game when we see them again, otherwise we are not going to win.”