In the FCIAC final, Darien was purely death-proof.
I’m never going to forget this, never…this was the game that counted.
— Lily Christensen
“That second (New Canaan) goal could have killed us,” first-year girls Wave Hockey coach Jamie Tropsa said of the Rams’ 2-0 marker with 20 seconds to go in the first period. “But (we) just didn’t give in.”
Instead, the Wave saw to the demise of New Canaan’s three-year reign as league champs, with an electrified 4-3 victory at Terry Conners Rink in Stamford on Saturday.
“We killed it,” said Lily Christensen, Darien senior captain and title game MVP.
The death blow came with Georgia Cassidy’s second goal of the game, breaking in from center and bashing in her own rebound for the winner, as she fell to the ice with 1:25 to play.
“I was coming down the ice and I saw two defenders in front of me, I know I couldn’t get around two of them,” Cassidy said. “So I dumped it, and tried to get my rebound, and did it.”
Playing too much of the first period in the Wave end to call it a good start for the Wave, New Canaan went up 1-0 on senior star Olivia Hompe’s goal with 4:02 left in the stanza.
And Catherine Granito made it 2-0 with the clock ticked down to :20.
But, wait another second.
Next it was time for something completely different.
Just 1:26 into the second period Ellie Bennett drove a blast from left circle into the net to begin the comeback, cutting the lead to 2-1.
“I saw an opportunity and just took it to the net,” Bennett said. “I’ve worked on that slap shot all year. I was just waiting for this game.”
Cassidy sped in alone, cut left off the crease and tucked the puck by Rams netminder Nathalie DeNey (25 saves) to tie it 2-2 at 4:12.
“I just went in and moved the goalie and put it in,” Cassidy said.
With 7:29 left in the second Hompe put the Rams back up 3-2.
It did not break the Wave’s momentum. And Darien found an extra step on the powerplay.
Amanda Sload took the puck behind the net, went for the left side and snuck it by DeNey with a wraparound to make it 3-3, scoring a girl-up with 2:41 to go in period two.
Cassidy capped it at 4-3, in period three, for the FCIAC Clutch Queens of 2013.
Julia Arrix had an assist for DHS. Hompe had three points, Corbett Ripley an assist.
Shannon Hall made 28 saves, not breaking under a hammer-and-tongs assault to close the second period, and she held tight in the third.
“She was a little shaken after the first period,” Christensen said of the Wave’s junior goalie. “But she didn’t let anything mentally affect her. She stopped everything.”
Cassidy finishes with a remarkable 30-goal freshman season, and 44 points.
Darien (11-2-1 FCIAC, 15-4-2 overall) beats NC for the first time this season and it was NC’s first loss. The Rams blanked the Wave 2-0, then won 7-1 during the regular season.
“Playing New Canaan during the regular season, we were always like, ‘we’ll get them when it counts, we’ll get them when it counts,’” Christensen said. “And this was the game that counted.”
The Rams are 14-1, 20-1.
Darien’s season ended with a 4-1 loss to Ridgefield in the quarterfinals of states at home on Monday.
New Canaan came back, beating Greenwich 7-1 in its quarters round.
So soon on reflection — and looking back to the Rams’ two commanding wins over the Wave during the regular slate — plus considering the previous three seasons of domination during The Age of Hompe — Darien’s triumph on Saturday, becomes all the more astonishing.
“Just to be able to stand out here and not put our heads down, because we lost to New Canaan again,” Bennett added. “I’m so proud of our team.”
“Olivia and Madzie (Carroll), two of the most dominant girls hockey players ever to come out of Conn., and we talked about it all week how we were going to play against them,” Tropsa said. “And they played right into it.
“New Canaan is so explosive — they have other outstanding players, it’s not just those two.”
This is the ninth season of girls’ hockey in the FCIAC, and with that the Wave wins its second title in that time, last taking it in 2009. The Rams have won it six times, including the previous three years.
“I’ve never been so…without words before…” Christensen said. “I’m never going to forget this, never.”