RIDGEFIELD -- The Darien girls hockey team (18-2, 14-0 FCIAC) survived two late Ridgefield goals and escaped with a 3-2 win from the Winter Garden Ice Arena last Monday afternoon. Chandler Kirby notched two assists, while Cassidy Schiff, Georgia Cassidy and Marissa Baker each scored for the Blue Wave. Darien now moves onto the FCIAC tournament semifinals on Wednesday night at Darien Ice Rink where it will play Wilton.
"We definitely knew it was going to be a tough game," said Darien coach Jamie Tropsa. "They have a good team, some real good players up front that can hurt you."
Facing a 2-0 deficit, Tiger forward Megan Hyatt wounded the Blue Wave early in the final frame on a breakaway goal down the right wing. Hyatt's score temporarily cut the Darien lead in half, until Baker responded by neatly sliding a puck past Ridgefield goaltender Kate Lombardozzi.
Midway through the period, the Tigers quickly worked back into their offensive zone and scored again, courtesy of Ellie Garelick in close. Later, stuck at 3-2, the Blue Wave picked up a costly penalty in the final minutes, which gave Ridgefield two extra attackers after they pulled Lombardozzi in net.
However, the Darien defense refused to allow another goal, thus totaling just six scores allowed over its final seven games--half of which came in a single contest at Simsbury.
Now, the focus shifts to the post-season.
"These girls really want to win the FCIACs," Tropsa said. "It was hard not to get them to think about that. But that's taking nothing away from [Ridgefield]. We know they're a good team."
The opening two periods unfolded much like they did six months ago, when the Blue Wave recorded one goal in each stanza against the Tigers in Darien. As the first intermission grew close, Schiff struck gold with a shot from the low slot set up by Lauren Cicero, who had dug the puck out from the right corner. The goal was Schiff's seventh on the year.
Then, the FCIAC rivals simply wore down neutral ice for much of the second period, before Cassidy doubled the Darien lead with four and a half minutes to go. The sophomore forward camped out in front of the Ridgefield net and was quickly rewarded with a puck on her back-hand that she instinctively flipped into the net. Cassidy's goal gave her a team-high 45 points for the season.
Senior goaltender Shannon Hall collected 7 saves on the day.