Her name didn’t appear on the Wave’s earliest roster release late last summer. But it is ninth grader Georgia Cassidy’s name that lights up the score sheet with the winning goal in the biggest game of the state tournament so far.
Cassidy’s first-half marker made it all the way to the final buzzer in Darien field hockey’s 2-1 victory over Staples in the Class L first round match at Stadium Field on Sunday.
Kyla Johns with her third goal in two postseason games opened up the scoring and Darien led 2-0 at the half.
“We definitely dominated most of the play,” said Wave coach Mo Minicus, setting off to recapture the state title Darien lost, after a five-year reign, last season. “We didn’t capitalize the way we should have.”
Staples cut the lead in half with nine minutes to go in regulation time.
“I think that, we played safe, we didn’t play to attack,” Minicus said. “And I think it would have been nice to go out and play on the attack.
“We were a little bit on our heels all day. And not stepping up.”
Minicus added that 16 seed Staples is a team that plays you tough.
The Wreckers (8-8-0-2) were coming off the high of winning their qualifying game vs. Norwalk 2-1 in triple overtime on Saturday.
“Staples — they left it all on the field,” Minicus said.
Top seed host Darien (16-1) is right back in action 2 p.m. Monday in the quarterfinals vs. No. 8 Greenwich (12-4).
Darien had seven corners to Staples’ one.
And the Wave outshot the Wreckers — cannon vs. pop-gun — 31-3.
Danica Hornick stopped two pops; pops that rang out like cannons all the same, with either shot capable of turning the game. Sometimes the task in net is worse when goalies see little work, then, suddenly need to save the game: you’re on!
The concern, though, was at the other end of the field.
“We just needed to connect a little more,” Minicus said. “But a win’s a win. And hopefully they can come away with a win like this, and realize…not so pretty.
“So it might inspire them to bring it a little bit more tomorrow against Greenwich.”
Johns scored on a scramble with 16:36 on the clock in the first half.
“The goalkeeper made the save and Kyla got the rebound,” Minicus said. “And smashed it right in.”
Cassidy breaks away
“Georgia was pretty good today,” Minicus said. “This was literally a breakaway. Maggie Wells sent the ball over to Georgia with this big ball across field.
“And Georgia gets it, and she dodges a defender.”
Cassidy sprang into a 2-on-1.
“It was a matter of take the pass or take the shot,” Minicus said. “And she took the shot and it was…awesome. It was great.”
It was with one minute to go in the half.
“The second half was a little funky for us,” Minicus added. “And I can’t put a finger on it. But, it was maybe Staples playing more not to lose. And we were playing it safe, I don’t know.”
Darien was safe and sound with a 4-0 victory over the Cardinals in game two of the regular season.
But the Cards were absent their best player at the time.
“They’re legit,” Minicus said. “Hopefully whatever we didn’t bring today we’ll bring tomorrow.”