The Joel Barlow High School girls lacrosse team had a watershed year for an up-and-coming program, going 13-3 in the regular season. The Falcons even took perennial SWC powerhouse Newtown to the brink in the conference championship game and earned the third seed in the Class M state tournament .
While all those things were reason to be confident, Barlow was probably the unluckiest No. 4 seed in the state, drawing FCIAC powerhouse Darien in the opening round. The Blue Wave had a very tough schedule, and Barlow head coach Joe Sopko knew Darien was much better than their 8-6 record suggested.
"I told the girls just to play confident," Sopko said. "We play the hand we're dealt, and Darien is an elite lacrosse team. We just got beat by a better lacrosse team."
An encouraging season for a rising program came to an abrupt halt even before the game was over. Darien had built up a 15-0 halftime lead, finishing Barlow off 22-4. Five different Blue Wave players scored hat tricks.
"The score is not going to take away anything we did as a team this season," Sopko said. "We just said we wanted to get to our fundamentals and do what we can do. Our girls worked hard, and we did that in brief flashes. We've laid a foundation for years to come this season."
Barlow's four goals all came in the second half when Darien had inserted most of their backup players. Olivia Sennet, Clare McLaughlin, Kaitlyn O'Brien and River Kynoch all scored for the Falcons. Allie O'Hara made 13 saves in net, despite the tough day against an explosive offense.
Barlow finishes its 2011 season at 13-4 and as SWC runner-up, and has plenty of reasons to be confident about 2012.
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