Ludlowe no test for field hockey
FAIRFIELD -- It's not always what you do with the ball, but what you do without it, that leads to success.
Just ask members of Darien High School's field hockey team which, on Tuesday night, used that off-ball movement to their advantage in a dominating performance and 6-0 win at Fairfield Ludlowe.
Darien stayed perfect at 9-0 overall and Ludlowe lost only its second regulation loss (the team has also dropped a pair of overtime defeats) and stands at 5-2-2-2. The Wave overwhelmed Ludlowe with five first-half goals as a result of players moving the ball well, cutting to open spaces to take passes, and getting into position defensively to create turnover after turnover on the host Falcons' side of the field.
Sure, Darien plays well in every game -- the team is, after all, undefeated -- but some wins just feel a little better than others, and this was a good one for the visitors.
"They showed up ready to play today. I felt they played really, really well tonight," Darien haed coach Mo Minicus said, adding that, perhaps, playing under the lights for the first time this season pumped up her team. "They had fast legs, their passing game was on and they attacked from the first whistle to the last whistle."
In the first half, Maddie Gill opened the scoring with an unassisted tally. The Wave made it 2-0 when her sister, Leslie, was set up by Ellie Riegel. Sam Johnston scored a goal assisted by Leslie Gill to make it 3-0. Maddie Gill scored again, putting home a shot after a centering feed by Gallen Rohn. Courtney Wynne fired a shot from straight on, but far away, sending a blast home from just outside the circle to cap the first-half scoring barrage. Darien added another in the second half when Lilly Cassidy had a net-finder assisted by Hollis Perticone.
The Wave unleashed 29 shots in this dominating effort. Darien put forth a solid team effort both offensively and defensively throughout thegame.
"We just passed the ball well. We looked up and saw all the open space," said Leslie Gill, adding, "the support off-ball was good today."
She was speaking of the hard work by Wave players to back up teammates while defending plays, giving Ludlowe little space to move and pass.
"Our legs were really there. Everyone cut to the ball and that really made a difference today," Leslie Gill said.
Not only were the starters on their game, but the reserves, who got plenty of playing time, especially in the second half, also had a chance to shine. That's one of the best things about winning by large margins, and it's something that's allowe Darien's field hockey team to turn into a dynasty. Juniors are often as well-equipped as seniors because of experience on the varsity stage when they're freshmen and sophomores.
"It's important," Minicus said of her substitutes getting more game minutes. "They work hard all week. Field hockey is not a high-scoring game, but we're lucky because we're scoring. It's nice to have that cushion and give these girls more of a chance." The Wave has scored seven or more goals six times this season, creating ample opportunities for everybody to play.
The coach added that the team does have a lot of depth and that everyone on the roster contributes but that the younger and lesser-experienced players get more playing time when the games are as lopsided as the Ludlowe game.
"I think it's very important for their future development," Minicus said.
Senior backup goaltender Claire Dickson got a chance to play for most of the second half, relieving starter Perrin Brown, and made a nice save on her only chance when Ludlowe's offense got behind Darien's defense once in the second half. The players on the bench cheered for their teammate when she made a stop on a one-on-one opportunity.
"It was really cool," said Dickson, adding that she was happy to show her skills that she's learned from teammates and coaches.
The Wave players are enjoying their success and Dickson enjoys watching her teammates when they are at their best.
"It's great to see all of our hard work pay off," she said.
The Wave had 13 penalty corners, and that was a plus, but Minicus said she would like to see better execution on those chances in future games. That was about the only thing one the Wave didn't do at a high level on Tuesday. And even the team's "weak spot" had a bright spot, given that the players did work hard to generate all of those corners.
Darien will try to carry over the success it had against Ludlowe and improve on those corners in the next game, Friday, at Wilton.
"They're very good and they always play us hard," Minicus said.