Still the ones: Darien girls hockey romps to state championship three-peat
The Darien Blue Wave picked a perfect time to play their best girls ice hockey game of the season.
The Wave blasted off with three goals in the first 10:04 and never looked back, rocking and rolling to a 5-2 victory over the Suffield/Enfield/Ellington/MLC/Housatonic co-op and claiming a state championship three-peat Sunday at Bennett Rink in West Haven.
Five players found the net as Darien overwhelmed the Wildcats. The Wave had a 35-22 advantage in shots and controlled the territory for the majority of the game.
“That was the best game we’ve played all year, without a doubt,” head coach Jamie Tropsa said. “Hands down. It was nice they brought out a lot of speed and a lot of energy, moved the puck really, really well, and got pucks to the net. It was everything we talk about all year and they produced tonight.”
For the seniors, going out on top was the perfect finish to four great years with the Wave.
“This means so much to go out like this in my last hockey game ever,” co-captain Sally Cassidy said. “This team has meant everything to me in my four years of high school, so winning a state championship, and winning it for my last year is everything I ever wanted.”
“This is the best feeling in the world,” co-captain Kiki Tropsa said. “This was my favorite year by far because our team was so close. We were all so excited for this game because we just wanted to win it for each other and nothing else. We didn’t need to prove anything to anyone, we just wanted to do it for each other. Ending my senior year like this is the best thing I could ever ask for.”
The scoring in the final was spread out among the lines, as well as the classes — a testament to the depth of Darien’s roster. Every class had at least one goal.
Cassidy, a senior, Shea van den Broek, a junior, Caitlin Chan, a sophomore, and Kate Bellissimo and Lucie Edwards, freshmen, each scored once. Assists came from Van den Broek, senior co-captains Elisa Maro and Corinne Bevill, and freshman Olivia Toscano.
Tropsa and Cassidy led the defensive effort, alongside sophomore Cate Droogan and freshman Catherine Martin, with sophomore goalie Hallie Kreppein coming through with her third straight terrific performance in the state tournament.
Kreppein allowed three goals in three state games, made 20 saves in the title game, and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
“Hallie was amazing,” Kiki Tropsa said. “She made such great saves today. The defense — I love my defensive unit. We’re a tight defensive unit and they’ll be fine next year too.”
Darien had a few near misses on early attempts by Cassidy, sophomore Kit Arrix, and Bevill, but Suffield goalie Caitlyn Caldon (30 saves) made those stops.
Cassidy started the play for the Wave’s first goal when she fired the puck on net from just inside the blue line. The puck was batted around in front before Chan stuffed it inside the left pipe at the 5:02 mark.
“In the New Canaan semifinal (a 3-1 win), getting that first goal in was huge and our energy level spiked after that, so we wanted to do that again,” Cassidy said. “We knew we had to score before they did and then everything came together.”
The first goal seemed to spike the energy levels of the Wave, who began peppering Caldon with shots.
At 8:59, Bellissimo ripped a low shot into the net with assists from Bevill and van den Broek to make it 2-0.
Just 1:05 after that, van den Broek lined up a shot from the right circle and fired the puck upstairs for a power play goal and a 3-0 lead with 4:56 remaining in the first period. Tropsa got the assist on that goal, as she set up van den Broek for the shot.
"The first period was so much fun,” Cassidy said. “We knew this was our last game, so why not end it in the best way possible and play as hard as we could.”
“I really think we surprised them,” Kiki Tropsa said. “We haven’t played them this season and that was kind of fun for us because we usually get in our heads if we’ve played a team before. So it was fun to play a new team and I think that made us come out harder and that first goal was key to the game, and the next two followed because of it.”
Darien, which had some trouble finishing on offense during the regular season, found its touch in the state playoffs, netting 11 goals over three games.
“We’ve changed nothing, it’s just things started to go our way,” Coach Tropsa said. “We did nothing different and it happened to work out in the last few games.”
The wave nearly made it 4-0 in the opening seconds of the second period when Maro scooped up the puck off the opening faceoff and worked in front for a shot, but fired it just a bit high.
Undeterred, Darien went back to work and scored its fourth goal at 2:28, when Edwards came around the right pipe and back-handed a shot into the Suffield goal. Toscano had the assist on that play.
In the third period, the Wildcats averted the shutout during a scramble in the Wave zone with under five minutes remaining.
Kreppein made a couple of spectacular saves, but a return shot by Sophia Lupone found the net to make it a 4-1 game with 4:20 on the clock.
Cassidy answered with an unassisted tally for Darien with 3:38 remaining.
The final goal came from Suffield’s Ana Tittmann with 1:36 to play, but after that, it was all over but the celebrating for the Blue Wave.
While the smiles were wide after the championship, the game was also the end of the line for the Wave’s graduating seniors, who have had remarkable careers.
“Every year it’s hard,” coach Tropsa said. “They all started as freshmen, they worked their way through and this is nice to see. They put a lot of hard work and a lot of effort into it, and it’s nice to have them go out on top like this.”
CHSGHA State Girls Ice Hockey Championship
Darien 5, Suffield/Enfield/Ellington/MLC/Housatonic 2
Suffield 0-0-2 2
Darien 3-1-1 5
Suffield: Sophia Lupone 1 goal; Ana Tittmann 1 goal; Molly Dowd 1 assist; Sydney Lupone 1 assist
Darien: Shea van den Broek 1 goal, 1 assist; Caitlin Chan 1 goal; Kate Bellissimo 1 goal; Lucie Edwards 1 goal; Sally Cassidy 1 goal; Elise Maro 1 assist; Corinne Bevill 1 assist; Kiki Tropsa 1 assist; Olivia Toscano 1 assist
S - Caitlyn Caldon 30 saves
D - Hallie Kreppein 20 saves
S - 22; D - 35