Darien wins field hockey championship
WETHERSFIELD -- Darien field hockey player Hollis Perticone gets to practice penalty strokes everyday against teammate Danika Hornick, one of the top goalies in the state.
So, when she stepped up to take her stroke in the state final with her team down a goal she was not worried.
Nor was she worried when she got the chance to take another penalty stroke with two minutes left for a chance to give the Blue Wave another state championship.
Perticone converted both and the No. 1 Blue Wave tacked on a late goal, winning their second straight Class L title 3-1 over No. 2 Cheshire.
It is the sixth state title in the last seven years for Darien which won four straight Class M titles from 2007-10 and its eighth overall state championship.
Perticone said the practice paid off when she got her chance on the big stage at Joseph Cottone Field.
"We practice them a lot so it's kind of like muscle memory," Perticone said. "Our goalie is like the best goalie in the state which is really good practice. Our team did a great job getting the strokes and I just had to finish. It was an awesome, all-team effort."
Darien coach Maureen Minicus said there is not a discussion as to who will take the strokes, Perticone just runs to the line.
"She just goes to the line, I didn't even call her name," Minicus said. "She was money today. I mean I knew it, I knew she would be."
Cheshire played a defensive first half in an attempt to slow the Darien offense, which had been blowing teams throughout the tournament.
The Rams got a little more aggressive to start the second half, earning three corners in the first five minutes after getting just two the entire first half.
"We came in with a defensive mindset for the first half," Cheshire coach Eileen Gallagher said. "We decided we were going to go all out in the second half and I think we did a decent job of executing the plan."
Darien kept knocking on the door but did not break through until a penalty was called with 12:50 to play and Perticone stepped up, knocking home her first stroke to the upper left corner.
The Blue Wave continued to pepper the goalie and win corners and with 2:01 were given another penalty stroke.
Once again, Perticone delivered, this time to the upper right corner.
"I knew our team wasn't going to die," Perticone said. "We really wanted to win this. We were ready and we weren't going to be over just because we they scored one goal. It feels awesome. We won FCIACs and I just wanted the icing on the cake and win states, too."
Darien's final goal was scored by Kyla Johns with just over a minute to play.
DARIEN 3, CHESHIRE 1
DARIEN 0 3--3
CHESHIRE 0 1--1
Records: D -- 15-1-1-0; C -- 14-3-0-0
Goals: D -- Hollis Perticone 2, Kyla Johns; C -- Erica Stauffer. Assists: C -- Michelle Federico. Goalies: D -- Danika Hornick (4 saves); C -- Madeline Levy (5 saves)