NEW CANAAN — Whether they are wearing Blue Wave Blue or their Darth Vader black uniforms, the giant target never leaves the backs of the Darien High School field hockey program.
Five FCIAC Championships and one co-title since 2007 along with two Class L state crowns and two more L co-championships since 2012 will make that indelible circle on every opponents’ schedule when the subject is Blue Wave field hockey.
And 2017 is no different for Hall of Fame coach Mo Minicus’ deep and talented group of mainly juniors and seniors who are working on their chapter of Darien field hockey.
The Blue Wave remained unbeaten on the season at 8-0-1 and atop the FCIAC East Division Tuesday by outlasting suburban archrival New Canaan, 2-1 at the Rams’ Dunning Stadium.
“It was a really good game. Our girls fought to the end,” said New Canaan coach Kelly Marks. “Darien is so skilled and very relentless on the field.”
Darien had 11 of its 14 penalty corners in the first half as New Canaan goalie Emily Gaeta made nine of her 11 saves in the opening 30 minutes.
The constant pressure translated into a 2-0 halftime edge thanks to goals by Bridget Mahoney (12:16 left) and Molly Hellman (5:21 before intermission).
TIP YOUR CAP TO NEW CANAAN
New Canaan (4-4, 4-3 FCIAC) did something that Darien’s previous eight opponents could not accomplish — it scored a goal.
Darien had entered Tuesday’s clash with eight shutouts.
The Rams goal came when New Canaan senior Sierra Smith scored with 27:40 left to go off a penalty corner for 2-1.
However, the Rams were unable to channel enough energy into a tying score. Darien goalie Erica Blaze finished with four saves.
“Our first half was a little rough. But the girls found their fight in the second half,” Marks said. “We put on a lot of pressure down the stretch.”
IT DOESN’T GET EASIER FOR DARIEN
Darien entered Tuesday as one of the 10 unbeaten field hockey teams left in the state.
The Blue Wave will host unbeaten Garden City (NY) (7-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Their FCIAC slate is no bargain as unbeaten Norwalk (8-0, 6-0), defending FCIAC champion Wilton (6-3, 6-1 FCIAC) and Staples (7-1) are on the horizon.
REACHING FOR THE HIGHEST STANDARD
All victories look alike in the standings. But playing to the highest standards is how you collect championship plaques and banners.
“It was a good test. And a good exercise for us going forward. In that sense I’m pleased with the win,” Darien coach Minicus said. “But to get 14 penalty corners and no goals off them is hard to do. And if we had gone up 3-0 early in the second half instead of seeing New Canaan cut it to 2-1 is a big difference. Toughening up and executing is important. We held on today but New Canaan outplayed us in the second half.”
DARIEN 2, NEW CANAAN 1
DARIEN 2 0—2
NEW CANAAN 0 1—1
Records: Darien 8-0-1, 8-0 FCIAC. New Canaan 4-4, 4-3 FCIAC.
Goals: D—Bridget Mahoney, Molly Hellman. NC—Sierra Smith. Assists: D—Katie Elders, Shea Van den Broek. Goalies: D—Erica Blaze (4 saves). NC—Emily Gaeta (11 saves). Penalty Corners: Dar 14, NC 4.