Developing the state's dominant girls lacrosse program was not Lisa Lindley's plan. "I was going to coach for five years and then go back to coach in college,'' the Darien High coach says. "Then I started having babies and my husband didn't want to leave his job in New York."
Lindley is now in her 16th year at Darien, and the Blue Wave are gunning for their fourth straight Division I title. The Blue Wave enter the FCIAC playoffs, which begin Friday, as the No. 1 seed, and will be shooting for their 11th title during her tenure. Darien is 13-3 overall, but is undefeated against state teams. Its three losses have come against New York teams. Darien last lost to a state team in 2008, when New Canaan won, 15-14, in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference semifinals. Darien came back to beat the Rams, 15-11, in the Division I quarterfinals.
The architect behind the success is Lindley, who grew up in Centerport, N.Y. and played college lacrosse at Northwestern and the University of Massachusetts. She served as an assistant coach at Yale before coming to Darien, and the team was emerging out of club status. The Blue Wave went 9-5 in her first year. "Ever since then, we've gotten better and better,'' she says.
The 2009 team may have been Lindley's finest. The Blue Wave went 22-2, outscored opponents 407-162 and finished eighth in the national rankings, according to the sports website Maxpreps.com Ten players from last year's team went on to play in college. This year, according to the website Laxpower.com, nine Darien players will compete in college next year. "It's very rewarding to see them get on the field and contribute for these programs,'' Lisa says.
Darien has won 10 league titles in Lindley's tenure. She still loves the challenge of preparing the team each season. She tries not to compare teams, but admits it's difficult. "I try not to do it with the girls,'' Lisa says. "But I do it with my assistant."
Darien's girls lacrosse program is fed by a youth program that is also one of the state's best. Her sons, Peter, 14, and Kevin, 11, play youth lacrosse. Her husband, Peter, is retired. That leaves Lindley, who teaches physical education, more time to dedicate to sustaining her powerful program. Her challenge is to stay on top. "Everyone is always gunning for us,'' Lindley says. "The pressure is on us."
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