Skill and will win back FCIAC title for Wave
With a Most Valuable Player performance from Bridget Mahoney, and a KiKi Tropsa who was just plain The Most, the Wave couldn’t lose.
So, even though, Darien did lose one of its best in injured Kendall Wisinski, the Wave prevailed top to bottom 3-0 over Wilton to win its first FCIAC Championship in two years at Casagrande Field in Norwalk on Thursday.
You have to have the skill. But you really have to have the will to make it happen.
— Mo Minicus
And, Wisinski, suffering a pulled hamstring in the semis, declares she'll be back to make it a full tank of blue for a run at states.
“We’ve been working so hard for this and wanting this so badly, and we knew the whole time that we could do this,” Sally Cassidy said. “So we came into this game, and it was like, there’s no way we’re losing.”
And then there was Erica Blaze, who was The Least, in the best way possible a goalie can be, with no goals against in making seven saves for her second shutout in as many playoff games.
“With six seconds left, or something, there was this girl barreling towards me,” said Blaze. “And I was like: I am not going to end this game with a goal.”
“This is great, because we brought the plaque back,” said Darien coach Mo Minicus. “We lost it last year, so, I’m happy for these girls to have this experience.”
Darien led 1-0 at the half on a goal from Tropsa, who stepped up in the absence of a major presence in Wisinski, and proceeded to stomp the field, both offensive and defensively.
Her stick checks were a work of art, and right up there with her goals for helping to turn the tide of the game.
Mahoney earned her MVP honor shredding and scattering Wilton’s attack at will, and turning the play back the other way on thundering charges, in tandem with Katie Elders like a two-girl locomotive through the midfield.
“No one was just going on their own,” said Mahoney. “We were passing, which is something that we haven’t been able to do all season. And we just clicked and had each other’s backs on defense.”
Cassidy patrolled the backfield homing in on and shutting down a dozen attacks.
Tropsa scored again on the doorstep early in the second half and Sydney Schrenker made it 3-0 a couple of minutes later with the prettiest goal of the game, lofting the ball into the top right corner from the left side on a set up from Tropsa and Elders.
There were several stars, but as a team, Darien outshone the full moon that hovered over the field, echoing the big zero on the board that the whole blue and white bunch can take credit for.
Tropsa went for a loose ball in the goalie’s feet — or maybe it was Tropsa who dislodged it — and with not a second thought whacked it to the back of the cage for the stand-up winner with 17:42 on the clock in the first half.
Three minutes later it was Tropsa again, but the goal was called back.
Regardless, the Warriors never came back.
“After (losing to) Staples (regular season) we were a little down,” said Tropsa. “But the captains and the seniors just really got everyone together. And I’m so proud of everyone, because we’ve worked so hard.”
“I think the tough competition has just built a stronger team and a stronger environment for us,” said Elders. “Two years ago was when we were last here; it feels great to be back.”
Skill or will? Which turned it all around in the playoffs?
“It’s both, it’s both,” said Minicus. “You have to have the skill. But you really have to have the will to make it happen.”