DARIEN, Conn. The Darien High girls lacrosse team used a three-goal burst in the opening five minutes of the second half of Fridays conference final to propel itself to a thrilling 17-14 victory over Greenwich.
Jenna Fritts, Taylor Hardison and Emily Stein each scored four goals as the Blue Wave secured its first conference championship since 2009 and a conference record 11th title overall.
Darien entered the tournament with an underdog mentality after some tough regular season losses dropped it to fourth seed. But Hardison said the team thrived in that role and ultimately used it to hold off the Cardinals.
We had nothing to lose as the underdog, and we proved everyone wrong, she said. It was so important to score quickly to start the second because we got the momentum shift back.
Darien never relinquished the lead, but the Cardinals charged back hard three times. Greenwich battled back from 6-3 to tie the game and pulled within one goal of Darien twice.
The Cardinals nearly erased a 15-10 second-half deficit, but Dariens defense clamped down in the final eight minutes. Greenwich cut the lead to 15-14 with less than eight minutes to play, but a timeout called by head coach Lisa Lindley refocused the Blue Wave. Greenwich made no serious threats the rest of the way.
Hardison netted the eventual game winner at the 15:10 mark in the second half. She followed up with a huge insurance goal with just more than three minutes to play and came up with a crucial steal a minute later deep in Greenwichs offensive zone.
Fritts netted three of her four goals in the second half and was named the games most valuable player.
Im shocked about it, she said of her MVP award. It really was a team effort. It was nerve-wracking, but we pulled ourselves together.
Darien (13-5) will now try to defend its Class M state championship starting Thursday. The ninth-ranked Blue Wave will travel to Guilford for a 5 p.m. game.
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