You could say that Cassidy Schiff made her own luck?
You could also say she made her own play — giving herself the assist, on her own goal — in Darien’s 4-3 overtime win over Hamden for its first-ever second straight CHSGHA state title at Bennett Rink in West Haven on Saturday night.
I didn’t doubt this team for a second.
— Courtney Lowe
“It was good to see this team never quit,” said Wave coach Jamie Tropsa.
Schiff rushed up the middle, over the blue line, looked to split the defense and the puck skimmed off to the right corner.
First in pursuit? Schiff.
She came out of the corner with it and went to the net on one foray with her shot deflecting off a defender.
It came loose for about a beat before Schiff rifled the puck smack into the net from low on the right circle with 5:40 to go in the overtime period to make the Wave state champs. She beat the kneeling Gianna Spino (20 saves) glove side.
“I really couldn’t tell you,” said Schiff a few minutes following her big moment, in the rush of excitement and celebration on the ice with the medals and trophy being broken out, “I just had to get it on net.”
Senior Logan Book from out in front on the rebound, and junior Elise Maro on a glove-beater from the top of the left circle on the rush, gave the Wave a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Hamden sprang right back with three goals in a row for a 3-2 score after one, Ariana Martin, Demeri Carangelo and Taylor Klesyk scoring in short order.
KiKi Tropsa tied it 3-3 midway through the second period on the power play.
Darien finishes the season at 20-4.
“They could have quit after FCIACs, a very emotional game; something they really wanted,” coach Tropsa added. “But they kept fighting.”
Emily Gianunzio (22 saves) was named title game MVP, earning her plaque with the shutout second and third periods and OT under maximum pressure and making three big title-winning-type stops.
And the MVP had the last thing a goalie needs to have happen to them, happen, before the drop of the puck.
She broke her stick in warm-ups.
Goalies being, usually a little superstitious, before warm-ups even start, Gianunzio might as well have broken a full-length mirror?
Maybe not. Her dilemma was more practical than a head-game like that.
“The beginning was a little rough for me, actually,” Gianunzio said. “That was my only stick.”
If she is superstitious, her goalie-mate on the Wave can be considered a walking, skating, shamrock.
“I used Lindsey’s (Ferreira),” said Gianunzio of her stick replacement. “It took some adjusting to.”
Darien had to adjust to overtime for a second straight game, after not playing OT all regular season.
“I think by the end of the game, we all kind of figured it out,” senior captain Gianunzio said.
“I have to say, throughout it all, we played so hard,” said senior captain defenseman Courtney Lowe. “We were so calm, even when they scored to tie it and even when they went ahead. I didn’t doubt this team for a second.”
Darien’s opening goal, in a playoffs season of goals being hard to come by, left no doubt that the Wave was here to play.
Molly Read cut in around the defense on the right side, shot and the goalie made the pad save.
Hovering on the rebound was Book who put it away for 1-0 with 9:44 on the clock in the first period.
Less than two minutes later Lowe passed up to Maro on the left side and she eluded a stick check to keep right on going. Crossing the blue line Maro let fly with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that beat the goalie clean over the glove for 2-0, drawing a gasp from the sizable crowd.
Hamden showed its stuff, harassing the Wave cage like hornets for three quick goals to take the 3-2 lead into the second period.
Hamden kept buzzing, only Tropsa stung like a lethal bee at the other end to keep Darien alive on the power play.
In deep, Tropsa took three determined strides back through the right circle, spied a pass from Shea van den Broek on the boards, turned and slapped the puck in one motion, beating the sprawling goalie between the pads to tie it up 3-3 with 6:17 left in the second.
Schiff found a way in overtime.
“It was all about not quitting, I think,” said Schiff, who was set off on her rush with a pass from Corinne Bevill in the neutral zone. “We all kept firing at her pads and it kept coming back. So it was like, let’s try pulling it out and just flicking it up there, because she was in her butterfly; so we could go upstairs.”
“It’s a great way to bounce back from FCIACs,” said Lowe. “But I’m glad we brought the plaque back for states.”
A video featuring Wave Hockey’s first state title repeat will accompany the marking of the event in print, and be posted here on Thursday.