WEST HAVEN >> Entering Tuesday’s Class L state semifinal game, Cheshire coach Dan Warburton was hoping to get a fast start against defending champion Darien.
He got his wish. The Rams scored the game’s first two goals. Unfortunately for Cheshire, it held that 2-0 lead when there was still 38 minutes, 43 seconds to go in the game.
Hollis Perticone had five goals and an assist and Mariah Matheis notched a hat trick to lead No. 3 Darien to a 12-6 win over No. 7 Cheshire at Ken Strong Stadium. The Blue Wave will face No. 1 Glastonbury in the championship game on Saturday at Bunnell at a time to be announced.
Glastonbury defeated No. 5 Fairfield Warde 13-5 in the other semifinal. Darien (20-2) advances to its eighth state championship and has won five state titles.
“Our start was great. I was hoping to have a good start like that,” Warburton said. “A lot of people have taken us for granted in this tournament and I was hoping to take advantage of that. Our defense played great and we did a nice job shutting down their transition game.
“We played a solid game, but Darien is tough. In the second half we didn’t have many opportunities. We lost 12-6, but that is a respectable score against Darien. My kids played hard and that’s all you can ask. It was a great season and I’m so proud of them.”
In the first half, Olivia Larson gave the Rams (15-5) a 1-0 lead 1:42 into the game and Maddy Levy scored her first of five goals with 13:43 to go in the half for the 2-0 lead.
The Blue Wave controlled the possession off the ensuing face-off and Matheis scored to cut Cheshire’s lead to 2-1 with 12:19 to go in the first half. Perticone tied the game at 2 with 10:28 to go and Matheis gave Darien its first lead with 9:04 left in the half. Levy tied it at 3 and, with 4:51 to go, Dillon Schoen scored on a bounce shot for a 4-3 Darien lead that held up at halftime.
Levy responded 38 seconds into the second half to tie the game at 4. But Darien scored four unanswered goals to take control, including three after Cheshire’s Samantha Trott received a yellow card and the Rams were down a player for two minutes. Emily Stein gave Darien a 5-4 lead with 20:57 left in the game. After Trott’s yellow card, Perticone scored three straight goals and gave Darien an 8-4 lead with 12:52 to go.
“Falling behind 2-0, we were a little concerned,” Perticone said. “We just told ourselves we needed to get that first goal out of the way and other goals would come. Those three unanswered goals to give us the 3-2 lead changed the game.
“In the second half, being a man up after they got that yellow card helped us a lot too.”
Darien coach Lisa Lindley said it took a while for her team to settle into the game.
“We had a slow start, but we just had to play through it and be patient,” Lindley said. “We played much better in the second half. We have a lot of seniors with a lot of experience and I think that was the difference.”
Cheshire goalie Alexa Carbone had 12 saves for the Rams and Darien goalie Kyra Gardner had five.
Darien 12, Cheshire 6
(at West Haven)
Cheshire 3 3 — 6
Darien 4 8 — 12
Goals: (CH) Maddy Levy 5; Olivia Larson 1; (DR) Hollis Perticone 5; Mariah Matheis 3; Dillon Schoen 2; Chandler Kirby 1; Emily Stein 1;
Assists: (CH) Emma Farrel 4; (DR) Katherine Cronin 2; Anna Moorehead 2; Kaeleigh Morrill 1; Emily Stein 1; Dillon Schoen 1; Hollis Perticone 1;
Saves: (CH) Alexa Carbone 12; (DR) Kyra Gardner 5;
Shots—CH: 11; DR: 24;
Team records—Darien 20-2; Cheshire 15-5.