Darien field hockey blanks Ridgefield 2-0 in FCIAC quarterfinals
The Darien field hockey team has appeared in the FCIAC championship game in seven of the past nine years. Obviously, the Blue Wave is extremely comfortable in the playoff spotlight.
Darien kicked off its latest postseason adventure with a decisive 2-0 victory over the Ridgefield Tigers in the FCIAC quarterfinals Friday at DHS. First-half goals by seniors Daphne Cutler and Bridget Mahoney put the Wave in front, and they went on to outshoot the Tigers 24-1 over 60 minutes.
It certainly appears as if Darien is ready for a deep tournament run.
“Postseason is definitely the best time of the season and it’s what we always look forward to,” Mahoney said. “It matters to win in the regular season to get a high seeding, but in the postseason, the pressure causes us to play our best game. We always seem to rise to the occasion so it’s really exciting going into it.”
The second-seeded Wave (14-2-1-0) will now square off against No. 3 Greenwich (13-4-0-0) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m., Monday, Oct, 29, at Brien McMahon High School. Greenwich defeated New Canaan 1-0 in the quarterfinals.
“This is the fun part and they know that now it’s one and done,” Darien head coach Mo Minicus said. “They’re going to give it their all and that’s all we can ask.”
No. 7 Ridgefield (9-4-4-0) will head back to the practice field and begin gearing up for the state tournament. The Tigers had a solid game from goalie Rosemary O’Keefe (8 saves) and the defense, who were under siege for most of the first half.
“We had a really good effort and we fought with them right to the end,” Ridgefield first-year head coach Jessica Smith said. “Definitely not our best game of the season, we’re battling a couple of injuries right now, but we played hard to the very end and that’s something I’m very proud of with this team: They never give up and they never let a team walk all over them.”
Darien had great play from the midfield, with sophomore Brinsley Rushe delivering a fantastic performance on the left side. Senior co-captain Katie Elders, Cutler, and juniors Molly Hellman and Tala Garcia also had huge games, stemming every Tiger push upfield. Ridgefield managed just one shot on cage.
“Our midfielders played great and Brinsley Rusch had the best game of her season,” Minicus said. “She really saw the ball at the left midfield and had some nice stops and nine step-ups. Tala Garcia is always stepping up on the ball and stopping their momentum. And we’ve got the combination of the Katie-Daphne-Molly speed on the right side.”
Darien had many chances in the first half, when it outshot Ridgefield 17-0 and had a 11-0 advantage on corners.
“They’re physical, they’re aggressive, and they’re good, so we were ready for that today,” Minicus said of Ridgefield. “We did everything we needed to do in the first half. We had 11 corners, we scored two goals, and we did a great job with our press and keeping them out of our defensive end.”
“This is my first year as a head coach and my first FCIAC tournament, and it’s definitely a very high level of play,” Smith said. “Mo does a great job, they’re very skilled and well-coached, and I’m hoping to get our program to that same place.”
Ridgefield’s defense, which featured Madison Peters, Bailey Harriott and Elizabeth O’Connor, among others, kept it scoreless for the first 13 minutes, before the Wave finally hit the scoreboard.
A wild scramble to the right of the cage ended with Cutler slipping the ball past O’Keefe and inside the right post at the 13:26 mark.
Mahoney then doubled the Wave’s advantage with 1:59 remaining in the first half, as she had an open look in the center of the circle and whipped a back-hand shot into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
Darien didn’t add to its lead in the second half, but held the Tigers at bay for the win.
“Our team did a good job of passing and working together,” Mahoney said. “And definitely defensively, we stepped up on any of their possible fast break opportunities.
“We need to work on scoring more, but we only need to win by one, so it doesn’t matter, she added with a smile.
FCIAC Field Hockey Quarterfinals - Darien 2, Ridgefield 0
Friday, Oct. 26, at Darien HS
Ridgefield 0-0 0
Darien 2-0 0
Darien: Daphne Cutler 1g; Bridget Mahoney 1g; Katie Elders 1a
R - Rosemary O'Keefe 8 saves
D - Catherine Vogt 1 save