NORWALK — The FCIAC was as competitive as any year that Darien coach Mo Minicus can remember, but in the end, it was a familiar name that came out on top.
No. 3 Darien won its third conference title in the last five years, defeating No. 5 Wilton 3-0 Thursday at Brien McMahon High School.
“The FCIAC could have gone to anyone this year,” Minicus said. “We knew nothing was easy, but we fought for it.”
Kiki Tropsa opened the scoring for Darien midway through the first half and the Blue Wave came out with fire in the second, scoring twice in the first three minutes on a tip-in from Tropsa and a strike from Sydney Schrenker 94 seconds later.
“At halftime we said, listen it’s a 0-0 game, momentum was shifting a little bit so I told them you have to be disciplined defensively and work together as a unit offensively, but pretend it’s 0-0,” Minicus said. “And those goals were a beautiful team effort.”
Tropsa’s two goals were no surprise to anyone who’s followed her career at Darien. Last year in the girls ice hockey semifinals, Tropsa scored the game-winner in double overtime — she has a propensity for the big moment.
“This atmosphere is so much fun,” Tropsa said. “I get here and instead of being nervous, I’m so excited. Everything is on the line, it doesn’t matter what happens after this, being in this moment is such a good feeling.”
Wilton didn’t look overmatched, but the quick flurry in the early second proved too much for the Warriors to overcome.
“Every goal is a killer, in the finals you’re playing a good team so you don’t want to let any goals go in,” Wilton co-coach Toniann Cortina said. “It happened, but we still continued to play and the girls didn’t give up, they fought to the last second of the game.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Tropsa, Darien. The senior midfielder saved her best performance for the big stage, scoring Darien’s first two goals in the win.
“First one, I did not know it was going to go in, I just gave it a really, really strong whack — almost like a hockey slap shot and it went right through the goalie’s legs,” Tropsa said. “The second one was an easy tip off a great shot from Katie Elders.”
BLAZE OF GLORY
Led by goalie Erica Blaze and midfielder Bridget Mahoney, the game MVP, the Blue Wave notched their second-straight playoff shutout.
Blaze is as aggressive a goalie as there is, and twice left her net to charge a Wilton attacker and dive to block a shot, including a breakaway chance as time expired.
“It was a total team effort,” Minicus said. “The defense back down to Erica Blaze. She made some great saves, right down to the very last one.”
HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
In just their first year at the helm of Wilton, co-coaches Elizabeth Pisko and Toniann Cortina led the Warriors to their second-straight FCIAC title appearance.
“Coming into this program new, we didn’t know what to expect,” Pisko said. “We didn’t know the players or the history too well, it was a learning curve but I’m very proud of every one of these girls. We came together, and to be here again in just an accomplishment in itself.”
DARIEN 3, WILTON 0
WILTON 0 0—0
DARIEN 1 2—3
Goals: D—Kiki Tropsa 2, Sydney Schrenker. Assists: D—Katie Elders 2. Goalies: W—Megan Kaeyer (3 saves); D—Erica Blaze (3). Shots: W—4; D—6.