Darien defeats Greenwich in FCIAC field hockey duel
GREENWICH -- The FCIAC field hockey championship has gone to either Darien or Greenwich 11 of the last 12 years, so when the Cardinals and Blue Wave met Tuesday, it probably wasn't their final meeting this fall.
In a rematch of last season's Class L Tournament quarterfinals, Darien had the first say in this long-standing rivalry Tuesday, using a strong second half to remain undefeated.
Georgia Cassidy broke open a close game, scoring twice in a 1:15 second span in Darien's 5-1 victory over Greenwich at Cardinal Stadium. The Blue Wave, who shared the FCIAC title with the Cardinals last season before winning their fourth state championship in five years, raised their record to 4-0 Tuesday, once again resembling a team destined for postseason play.
"We're looking really solid right now," said Cassidy, a sophomore. "Our defense is doing a really good job, our center backs are strong and our goalie (Danica Hornick) is playing great."
Sophomore forward Erika Hvolbeck scored for Greenwich (3-1), which received 20 saves from senior goalie Freddie Bancroft.
"We have a mix of older girls and younger girls, so it's taking us some time to gel," said GHS coach Ally Orrico, whose squad lost to Darien in last year's Class L quarterfinals. "We see bits and pieces of the type of field hockey we're capable of playing. But we have to put 60 minutes together."
Darien senior Kelsey Bumgardner tallied the game's first goal 7:20 into the opening half off a penalty corner. Receiving the insert pass from Kyla Johns, Bumgardner lifted a high shot way over Bancroft's head into the left corner of the cage, making it a 1-0 game.
"I've been working on my lift shot in practice for a couple of days, so I'm happy I had a chance to use it in today's game," Bumgardner said. "I received a great pass and was just lucky to score on the play."
Sophomore Marissa Baker's goal in transition off a pass from Cassidy with 18:07 to go in the first half put the Blue Wave on top, 2-0. An outstanding diving save off a 2-on-1 by Darien goalie Danica Hornick with 16:05 left in the first half preserved the Blue Wave's 2-0 edge, but the Cards soon gained some momentum heading into halftime.
With Greenwich applying a lot of pressure in the circle, Hvolbeck knocked in a rebound with 1:36 before intermission.
"It was a total team effort on that goal," Hvolbeck said. "I just got my feet around it and was able to get a shot off."
Hvolbeck said the game illustrated what aspects the team needs to tighten up.
"We have to communicate a little bit better and do a little bit better job of marking our players," Hvolbeck said.
Darien coach Mo Minicus knew her Blue Wave squad had to turn the tide back in their favor in the second half.
"The momentum shifted toward the end of the first half," Minicus said. "I said to the team, we had to regain the momentum in the second half and try to score quickly."
Bancroft stood strong in goal, making five saves the first six minutes of the second half for the Cardinals.
"She really held us in the game with some great saves," Orrico said. "She is one of our leaders out there."
Johns scored on a penalty corner off a pass from Mollie Riegel and Cassidy converted a penalty corner with 15:21 left, before tallying again at the 14:06 mark, giving the visitors a commanding 5-1 advantage.
"Darien has a lot of fast players, a lot of chemistry and like we do, they have a great goalie," said Cardinals senior defender Jacquie Steele, who along with senior Sydney Cole, helped pace the team's solid effort.
"At halftime, we talked about playing with more confidence and doing a better job of communicating with each other."
Darien, which has outscored the opposition 20-1 through its first four games, will look to keep its perfect record intact at home on Thursday.
"I'm so excited, we have one of our biggest games coming up Thursday against Wilton," Bumgardner said. "Then we play Lakeland/Panas (on the road) Saturday, so we have some tough battles ahead of us."
DARIEN 5, GREENWICH 1
DARIEN 2 3 -- 5
GREENWICH 1 0 -- 1
Records: Greenwich 3-1; Darien 4-0.
Goals: D -- Georgia Cassidy 2, Marissa Baker, Kelsey Bumgardner, Kyla Johns; G -- Erika Hvolbeck. Assists: D -- Johns, Cassidy 2, Mollie Riegel. G -- Jacquie Steele. Goalies: D -- Danika Hornick (6 saves); G -- Freddie Bancroft (20 saves).