Rebound: After double OT loss in FCIACs, Darien girls hockey sets sights on states

It may have come up short in the FCIAC tournament, but don’t count the Darien girls ice hockey team out just yet.
After a double overtime loss to New Canaan in the FCIAC semifinals last week, the Wave is looking to put that game behind them as they prepare for the state tournament this weekend, where they are the returning champions and No. 2 seed. They’ll face No. 10 Simsbury in the quarterfinal round at 3:45 p.m., Saturday, with a chance to advance to the semifinals on March 6.
“Last year, we were in the same situation where we lost a heartbreaker in the [FCIAC] finals to Greenwich,” said head coach Jamie Tropsa, “and then we came back and had a good state tournament run, so we’re hoping for that again.”
In last week’s semifinal matchup, Darien found itself tied with 1:29 remaining in its second overtime when New Canaan freshman Courtney O’Connell scored to win the game 3-2.
“We had chances, we had a bunch of odd man rushes that we just couldn’t capitalize on, and then O’Connell took a good shot and it went in the net, so it was a real bummer, but we’ll see what happens from here,” Tropsa said. “It was rough, you know — they poured their heart and soul out. I thought they played a pretty good game, and it just came up a little short.”
But after taking the day off following the loss, the team was back at it last Friday at practice, ready to regroup. Tropsa changed up the routine, letting the girls play small area games instead of the usual drills. The idea, he said, was to get the team to forget the loss and concentrate on its next goal: winning the state championship, which Darien has won the past two years.
“The key to us is to keep getting the puck to the net and trying to find some rebounds, which kind of has been a little bit of a troublesome area for us. We get a lot of great opportunities and don’t capitalize, so we have to find a way to have the puck bounce our way a little,” he said.
Tropsa also stressed keeping his players mentally tough. Senior co-captain Corinne Bevill said it’s a mantra Tropsa repeated in practice last Friday.
“He reminded us of how we need to channel the focus that we had last year after we lost, and how we need to take the same positive mind-set into our next game because the state is so strong this year that every game is a huge game,” Bevill said. “We need to really capitalize on all of our opportunities from here on out.”
According to Tropsa, despite the disappointment at the FCIACs, this is a team that still has what it takes to win it all at states.
“We’re hoping for the best, but we’re going to keep our head down, and keep going for it,” he said. “We have the skill, we have the ability, we have the heart, we have the soul — now we just have to put it all together.”
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Darien senior co-captain Kiki Tropsa (23) skates with the puck during a game against New Canaan this season. — Dave Stewart photo

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