Cornell-bound Patten chose lacrosse over soccer at next level

Look away for a moment and you’ll likely miss New Canaan’s Dillyn Patten.

It could be a race on the lacrosse field—an opponent usually loses—or a quick cut into the net, or a goal that seems to come out of nowhere.

Since she was a freshman, Patten has been an impact player for the Rams’ lacrosse and football teams, and she does so with speed and a seemingly limitless supply of energy.

Listen to Patten, and there’s another reason for her athletic success.

“My teammates do everything and sometimes I’m just lucky enough to be there for the cut,” said Patten. “If I wasn’t with them or the coaching staff, I probably wouldn’t be the player I am today.”

Patten, a senior captain, and the Rams (13-2) still have work to do this season. They will begin their FCIAC championship defense next week after last year winning the program’s first conference title since 1993, and the CIAC Class L playoffs will follow.

After that, Patten will trade New Canaan’s red and black for Cornell’s Big Red, where she will continue her lacrosse career.

Deciding between lacrosse and soccer was not an easy choice.

“I love both sports so much,” Patten said. “It’s definitely hard to give up on any of them. At the end of the day, lacrosse was my number one choice. It was a difficult decision, but in the long run, lacrosse is what I love most. It’s my passion.”

“Whichever she chose would have been great,” said New Canaan lacrosse coach Kristin Woods. “But I’m glad she’s playing lacrosse because I think she’s going to have a huge impact on the Cornell program.”

Woods said Patten will be her second player to qualify for Cornell’s lacrosse team, alongside Veronica Lizzio, a 2009 NCHS graduate.

Patten, whose father James played lacrosse at Hobart, will join her older sister Kendall, who is a rising senior on the Cornell football team. Her mother, Corinne, is a graduate of Cornell’s football program.

“During the recruiting period, they wanted to stay out of it as much as possible because they didn’t want to be an influential factor,” Patten said. “They wanted me to choose a school, and Cornell is a fantastic school. The academics, the coaching staff and the team are just great.”

On the field, Patten was one of the Rams’ key offensive weapons, playing alongside older colleague Kaleigh Harden and several other rising young stars.

Woods said Patten had speed and athleticism and “a real competitive spirit – that’s one of her strongest qualities. She’s always competing, whether it’s sprints, ground balls, or defensive drills, she’s vying for her highest potential all the time.

And the statistics have piled up.

In 14 games this season, Patten has scored 47 goals, provided nine assists, controlled 25 draws and generated 20 turnovers.

In her career she has played in 58 games, scoring 128 goals and 25 assists for 153 points, controlling 59 draws and generating 41 turnovers. The Rams have been 50-8 since their freshman year and 32-3 for the last two seasons.

“Last year I realized that honestly, we’re just family,” Patten said. “I know it’s a cliché to say this, but each of us, in games and training, is ready to push each other every day. Last year the seniors we had were amazing and I don’t think this team would be where we are without them.”

Any talk of New Canaan Girls Lacrosse is inevitably tied to Darien, as the two rivals have dominated Connecticut competition for much of the past decade.

In 2021, the Rams won three out of four meetings, including the FCIAC Finals, with the Blue Wave winning the Class L semifinals en route to a state title.

Darien defeated New Canaan 15-11 earlier this season, but the rivals are likely to meet twice more in the postseason.

Patten has an interesting insight into the rivalry, playing for Coach Woods at New Canaan High and Darien’s Lisa Lindley with her club team, the Connecticut Grizzlies.

“I’ve known Woods since I was fourth grade, and Lisa has been a great supporter of mine through Grizzlies and the Club,” Patten said. “Both love the players on the field but the rivalry is so big and so strong that it’s a weird feeling during these games.

“They’re definitely different, but they’re both saying similar things – how to use what your teammates give you and how to work together.”

New Canaan’s regular season is coming to an end. The Rams play Warde on Tuesday, and the conference tournament begins next Thursday with the quarter-finals.

For Patten, it’s a time to focus on the big goals of winning championships while enjoying the moment.

“We had seniors night (last Tuesday) and I realized it was coming to an end,” Patten said. “But we take it game by game, practice by practice. We still have games to play and we will all enjoy the time we have together. It’s a crazy feeling.”; @dstewartsports

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