GREENWICH — Since edging Longmeadow (Mass.) by one goal on Sept. 21, Darien beat its next eight field hockey opponents by at least three goals or more. That impressive pattern changed a bit Tuesday, but the Blue Wave’s fortunes didn’t.
Embroiled in a scoreless tie against FCIAC rival Greenwich at halftime, one goal did the trick for Darien this time.
Senior Catie Duggan’s goal with 26:33 remaining in the second half lifted undefeated Darien to a 1-0 victory over Greenwich in a well-played matchup at Cardinal Stadium.
With the win, two-time defending FCIAC champion Darien upped its record to 12-0 overall and 10-0 in FCIAC play. The Blue Wave have outscored their foes 57-4 for the season and have posted nine shutouts in 12 games.
Tuesday proved to be one of Darien’s most competitive games.
“Greenwich was probably one of our more aggressive, competitive opponents that we’ve seen so far,” Duggan said. “No one has knocked us around as much as they have, with the exception of Ridgefield at the beginning of the season. It definitely feels good to keep our winning streak going.”
The Cardinals, who are 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the FCIAC, received 11 saves from junior goalie Jorja Pastore.
“We played really well today, I feel like we applied a lot of pressure,” Pastore said. “Unfortunately, we gave up that one goal. But we didn’t give up. We stepped up to the challenge.”
Darien took a 1-0 lead 3:27 into the second half, courtesy of Duggan’s goal off a counter attack. Senior Molly Hellman and sophomore Evelyn Hidy each assisted on the goal, which saw Duggan convert a short shot deep in the circle.
“Molly Hellman brought the ball up into the circle, pulled right, passed it to Evelyn Hidy, who pulled left around the girl and dished it to me,” Duggan said of the sequence leading up to her game-winning goal. “Evelyn dished it to me on the left side of the goal and I just smacked it inside the boards.”
Following Darien’s goal, the Cardinals had several chances to tally the equalizer. Yet as the Blue Wave have done to most of its opponents, they held GHS off the scoreboard. Greenwich forced a penalty corner at the 23:35 mark of the second half. Senior Ashley Zolin sent the insert pass to senior Demi Janis, who moved the ball to junior Kathryn O’Donnell, but the Blue Wave maintained their lead, as Darien junior Brinsley Rushe effectively cleared the ball out of the circle.
Blue Wave sophomore Maddy Hult stepped up for a crucial clear on Janis’ strong run toward the goal midway through the second half.
Darien took nine penalty corners overall, six of which they drew in the second half. On Greenwich’s penalty corners, the visitors were sound defensively.
“We are pretty solid defensively,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “We have a fast rush, a fast trail. Our defense is tough. They need to recognize the risk of the fastbreak, but they are a stellar force back there.”
Both squads generated chances during a scoreless first half.
“We had really good offensive chances, but because of this new system we’re using, we didn’t push up enough,” Minicus said. “We had breakaways, so we have to figure out how to score in a 2-on-1 situation.”
Senior Catherine Vogt, who played the first half and senior Monisha Akula, who was in goal in the second half, combined for three saves in the winning effort.
“No one likes not being the winner of the game, but we are really happy,” GHS coach Megan Wax said. “The two things we have been focusing on the past week we did today. We were able to step up and play a little more fearless and aggressive and we kept our bodies in constant motion. Because we were moving, we were able to keep the ball moving a little better. We are working on our spacing so we can get better shots, as long as we keep producing opportunities, we’ll get there.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Duggan’s goal early in the second half was the difference.
“Our team works so well together off the field, during practice and in the locker room,” Duggan said. “I think that propels us past our opponents. We have chemistry off the field and I think it really translates well on the field.”
The Cardinals visit Norwalk on Thursday at 5 p.m., then hosts Wilton on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
“We are just focused on stepping up to the challenge and not letting our opponents intimidate us,” Pastore said. “If we come into the game strong, we’ll go out strong.”
Darien visits rival New Canaan on Friday and travels to Westhill on Tuesday.
“The FCIAC is so hard, anything can happen each game,” Minicus said.