Darien knocks off Rams in FCIAC 2nd round
Field hockey finishes 7-2
Published 3:50 pm, Wednesday, November 3, 2010
On Tuesday night, it was Madeleine Gill's turn.
The Darien senior scored a career-best four goals in the Blue Wave's 7-2 FCIAC semifinal field hockey win over rival New Canaan. It was top-seeded Darien's second win over the Rams in 13 days, and it was by a similar margin -- the Blue Wave won 7-1 at Dunning Field Oct. 20.
Under the same lights, Darien won a different way. Sure this team continues to win -- and it hasn't failed since a tie against Norwalk in its first game of the 2008 season -- but Blue Wave head coach Mo Minicus had her girls give each other space this time around.
"We talked a lot about spreading out offensively," Minicus said. "Looking at game film, we were really making the circle congested. She (Gill) was one of the ones pinching in and pinching in and pinching in -- and she's a left wing -- so we showed video today, and it was apparent, and she learned from it. She was in the right spot at the right time."
Four times she was. Gill scored the game's first goals at the 28:32 and 25:49 mark of the first half. Fifth-seeded New Canaan didn't go quietly early, though, as the Rams' Alexandra Jonker and pushed a ball past Darien senior goalie Perrin Brown with 23:34 left in the half.
"[Jonker] was where she should've been," Rams head coach Erin Gildea said. "She stayed patient. Sometimes we get sucked into the middle there, and then what happens is, when the ball crosses, no one's there. I told them, `If you get that ball on your stick near the goal, it's going to be a strong ball at goal, and follow it in.' ... We gift-wrapped the first two, so to get that goal and come back (2-1) was huge."
Despite Darien's spread-out attack and patience in the circle, the Rams were especially aggressive, even when trailing by multiple scores.
"They did a really good job marking man to man," Gill said. "They were very close on us, especially inside the circle, as to try and give us not a lot of time."
And although there aren't many weaknesses to be found in Darien, New Canaan did do something no other team had this season: score multiple goals. The Blue Wave had allowed three goals all fall heading into the game.
"We probably weren't expecting the cross," Minicus said of the first New Canaan goal. "But I actually told them it fell apart in the middle of the field. And the second goal was beautiful. That was a gorgeous corner by them."
The corner came from the stick of Austin Ready, who scored New Canaan's second goal with 22:41 remaining in the game, cutting Darien's lead to 5-2.
"That was a corner we'd been working on a lot," Gildea said. "We made a slight adjustment to it and it worked perfectly."
Sophie Watters, Alex Iqbal and freshman Hollis Perticone helped put the nail in New Canaan's FCIAC coffin, as all of them added to Darien's final tally. Darien had 13 penalty corners, 38 shots on New Canaan's Amanda Milunovich and fours saves for Brown, who wasn't challenged once in the second half. The Rams managed five penalty corners, six shots on goal, while Milunovich tallied 24 saves.
"I think, unfortunately, obviously Darien's a wonderful team and they earned every goal and earned the victory, but today we had breakdowns and beat ourselves as well," Gildea said. "They capitalized on every single mistake we made."
Is Darien unbeatable if it continues to put on clinics in ball movement the rest of the year?
"Yes, definitely," Gill said. "Every single one of our players has such great skill, we can execute such a tight passing game really well, and that helps us to weave in and out of their defense."
New Canaan now gets the break for states, where a possible third meeting with Darien awaits.
Darien is scheduled to play against Warde Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Brien McMahon for the conference title.
"They were one of the toughest games we played all season," Minicus said. "They were aggressive, physical and have very good ball-handlers."