GREENWICH — Like their previous meeting last month, Darien struck first in its game against girls hockey rival Greenwich.
Unlike the previous matchup, the Cardinals responded in impressive fashion.
Scoring three unanswered goals after Darien tallied first, Greenwich notched a well-earned 3-1 win in a key midseason FCIAC game held at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink on Thursday night.
Greenwich, which was coming off a 4-1 defeat at the hands of New Canaan, improved to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in FCIAC play. The Blue Wave sport an overall/conference mark of 6-2.
“Our team played with a lot of jump that we haven’t seen in a while,” said GHS coach Alex Lerchen, whose Cardinals dropped a 2-0 decision to the Blue Wave at Darien Ice House on Dec. 11. “It’s nice to see that happen on our home ice. We took our lumps last week against New Canaan, so you always want to protect your house, after a loss.”
The Cardinals, who visit West Haven on Saturday, received goals from Delaney Roth, Lexi Danielson and Emma Wingrove. Chelsea Donovan scored Darien’s goal. The defeated snapped the Blue Wave’s three-game winning streak.
“We didn’t play a bad game, but at the end of the day when you get chances you have to score,” Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said. “When you go in on a breakaway and you have a great shot and it’s off the post, that’s tough. We have to do a better job of taking care of those opportunities and finishing.”
Senior goalie Jessica Ware turned in another strong effort, making nine saves in the third period to help the Cards maintain their advantage.
“It felt amazing to get off to a good start,” Ware said. “We came out really strong in the first period. Then ending it like that was just great. Last week, we had a tough loss to New Canaan, so coming from a loss, this was a momentum-changer for our team.”
With the score tied at 1-1, Danielson gave the Cardinals the lead for good with 4:53 remaining in the second period. Wingrove, a senior period, dug the puck out of the boards near the left corner and passed it to Danielson, who was situated at the left face-off circle. Danielson snapped a shot that seemed to deflected off the skate of a player in front and found its way past sophomore goaltender Ella Whitticom into the net, making it 2-1. Senior defender Katie Piotrzkowski also assisted on the tally.
The Blue Wave had several chances to knot the score late in the second period, but Ware turned away numerous shots, two of which came on breakaway opportunities.
“She stopped so many breakaways, she played outstanding,” Lerchen said of Ware.
Wingrove gave GHS some breathing room, tallying a rebound goal with 4:32 left in the third period, giving the home team a 3-1 edge. Darien increased its pressure in the final period, with junior forwards Nellie Kniffin, Olivia Toscano and Lucie Edwards leading the charge. Yet Ware, who was supported well by defenders Piotrzkowski, Tess Marciano, Roth and Syndey Orszulak, stood tall in goal.
“Greenwich did a great job of clogging up the middle,” Tropsa said. “They have great defensemen and great goalies.”
Donovan put the Blue Wave on top, 1-0, at the 10:16 mark of the opening period. Roth registered the equalizer from just below the blue line with 7:24 to go in the first period.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ware helped spark the Cardinals, showing her leadership in goal throughout. She was aided by an experienced defensive group.
“They did exactly what Alex (Lerchen) told them to do, keeping the forwards out of the middle on power plays and not chasing the puck at all times,” Ware said.
“Darien has an outstanding program, their coaches do an awesome job with the team — they’re a championship team,” Lerchen said. “Hopefully, this gives us new found confidence going forward.”