Not so many nails have needed to be bitten in Wave field hockey playoff games this season.
Not so, in the state semis.
Only a second half penalty stroke goal by Hollis Perticone — and, a save on a penalty stroke, by Darien goalie Danika Hornick with six minutes to play — gave the Wave a 1-0 win over New Milford in the Class L semifinals under the lights at neutral site Weston on Wednesday night.
“Hollis was driving the net inside the circle and the official thought that the defender blatantly fouled Hollis,” said Darien coach Mo Minicus. “Any blatant foul in the circle is a penalty stroke.”
Then it was time to finish off a different type of nail instead.
“Hollis — just calm, cool and collected — nailed it,” Minicus said. “In the bottom left corner.”
Nail-biter that this was with the score, the flow of the game had Darien chewing up New Milford with an advantage in corners 13-2.
Darien (18-1) outshot New Milford (14-3-3) 11-2.
“Offensively we absolutely controlled the game,” Minicus said. “And they just packed it in defensively and just made it really hard to get anything happening in the open field of play.
“Our corners needed to be sharper. We need to execute them. Just execute.”
Not capitalizing on so many corners meant New Milford stayed in the game.
“With six minutes to go, they’re inside our defensive circle,” said Minicus. “And I thought Cammie (Lattimer) made a great defensive play. But they thought that she either illegally stopped the ball with a high stick, or, (that) she was a little physical.
“But whatever she did to stop her player from scoring, they thought it was stroke-worthy.”
Hornick was save-worthy next with the penalty stroke stop.
“And Danika was just… She dove to her right and just got her glove up and made this awesome stop,” Minicus said.
Darien looks to return to the state title winners circle with a win over No. 2 Cheshire at 10 a.m. Saturday at Wethersfield’s Cottone Field.
“They were a hard team to play, very athletic,” said Minicus of the No. 4 seed.
Does Minicus expect that Cheshire (17-2) will be similar?
“I do,” she said. “We’ll be as prepared as we can be.”
More play like this will help.
“It was just such an awesome team effort yesterday,” Minicus said. “Jackie Brokaw, Katie (Shanahan), Maggie (Wells), were just (excellent) defensively — Kat (Huber) was unbelievable in the midfield — Sloane (Bessey) had a great game.
“Cammie stepped up in the second half.
“The forwards put a lot of pressure on their defense. It was just a great game.”