‘They’ve Carried on Our Culture’: New Canaan Girls Lacrosse Beats Darien for CIAC Class LL Title


New Canaan Girls Lacrosse, 2024 state champs. Credit: Terry Dinan

It was a lot of déjà vu all over again at Sacred Heart University’s Campus Field on Saturday afternoon.

For the third consecutive year it was New Canaan-Darien in the CIAC Girls Lacrosse Championship. The same matchup as it has been for the previous four FCIAC Championship Games. And just like the conference final played 16 days ago, it was the Rams who came away with a five-goal win as New Canaan downed the top-seeded Blue Wave 10-5 to take the Class LL crown.

“I am just so happy for this team,” New Canaan head coach Kristin Woods said. “They worked their butts off all season. I kept telling them practice is going to be harder than game, and it paid off.”

Helped by a standout performance from junior goalie Ceci Patterson (8 saves), a stout defensive performance and long offensive possessions that usually ended with scores, the No. 2-seeded Rams reeled off six consecutive goals to turn a 3-2 nail-biter at the end of the first period into a comfortable 9-2 lead heading into the game’s final minutes. Darien’s Anna Van Kennel scored three goals in the last 2:30 of the contest to keep the Blue Wave’s hopes alive – but it was too little, too late.

“Maintaining possession on the draws was super important,” senior co-captain Devon Russell said. “We had Kat Norton and Lexie Tully try it and we were successful switching that up against (Darien’s) Sadie Stafford who was doing great on the draw.”

“I think defensively we stopped the break – they scored two quick ones off breaks,” Woods told NewCanaanite.com. “They just played together and that’s the best part about this team. There is no one kid that is going to do it all. Every single person was a weapon out there.”

As they have all season, the Rams showed remarkable patience on the offensive end—not forcing bad shots and relying on ball control, movement and forcing Darien to make mistakes, resulting in numerous eight-meter free position opportunities. New Canaan received goals from six different players – Emma Row, Maddie Tully, Lexie Tully, Devon Russell, Sydney Patten and Addie Crowley – with Row, both Tully sisters and Russell leading the way with two scores apiece.

The win was New Canaan’s eighth state championship (2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2022, 2024) and marks the second time in program history that the Rams captured both the FCIAC and CIAC titles (2022 being the other). The victory erased not only the bad memories of last year’s state final (won by Darien 14-13) but also a 5-5 tie with the Wave back on April 25th.

“We knew that tie earlier in the season definitely wasn’t our best game,” Russell said, “The fact that we tied them and knew we had a lot to work on was really encouraging. We implemented that in that FCIAC game and to come back here and play them again we knew it was probably going to be the toughest time we had with them. Just maintaining that idea of ‘we’re not done yet,’ we need to keep applying what we’re doing, not being satisfied – that is what really motivated us.”

For Russell and the rest of her senior teammates, winning both FCIAC and State titles over their rival was a fitting coda to a very special class of lacrosse players — one in which seven members are going on to play lacrosse in college.

“To be able to end our career at New Canaan on such a high note is so special,” Russell said. “We know how good we were individually, the talent is there. The main thing we wanted to represent about New Canaan as a town and as a team is that it is all about each other. It’s all about your teammates – every ground ball, every defensive stop you make you’re doing it for each other and that embodies the New Canaan mentality.”

“This group has come together since freshman year and they left it on the field,” Woods said. “The senior leaders have just been outstanding, every single one of them has meant so much to the program. They’ve carried on our culture. I know they’re going to go on to do amazing things and will accomplish so much at the next level.”

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