Darien tops Ridgefield to advance to Class L field hockey final
WESTON — It says a lot about the enduring legacy of the Darien field hockey program that in the spotlight of a state semifinal game, the leaders of the Blue Wave’s offense were a senior veteran and a freshman who just joined the varsity team a few weeks ago.
Ryan Hapgood, the freshman, delivered a hat trick and Molly Hellman, the senior co-captain, had a goal and two assists as Darien topped Ridgefield, 4-1, in the CIAC Class L semifinals Tuesday at Weston High School.
It was a total team effort for the Blue Wave, which kept their grip on the lead the rest of the way.
“Molly Hellman is all over the field and never stops,” Darien coach Mo Minicus said. “She’s such a playmaker. And Ryan Hapgood is a very athletic freshman. We pulled her up from JV and it was just a matter of time for her to get adjusted to our level of play. She kept things simple and was in the right place at the right time and she finished.”
The third-seeded Blue Wave (20-1-1-0) advanced to the state final for the 14th time in its history and for the 11th time in the past 16 years. Darien will face No. 4 Staples (20-1-1-0) in the final on Saturday in Wethersfield at a time to be determined.
“It’s really exciting,” Hellman said. “It’s great to get there (the final). We have a lot of speed on offense and we’ve started clicking at the right time. Ryan was in the right places tonight and we were able to find each other.”
“Honestly, I was really scared,” Hapgood said. “But my teammates helped me stay calm and composed, which made me feel better out there. I just tried to be in the right position and look for my teammates.”
For Ridgefield (16-3-0-2), it was a frustrating loss. The Tigers had the better of the possession time for much of the game, but fell victim to the Wave’s quick strikes. Darien is the only team to beat Ridgefield in regulation time this season, having beaten the Tigers three times. Ridgefield’s other losses were in overtime to Staples and Norwalk.
“I was really proud of the way we performed tonight,” Ridgefield coach Jessica Smith said. “We possessed the ball a little bit more and we were definitely right in the game. The score doesn’t reflect the possession of the game at all and anyone watching would not think that was a 4-1 game. One thing we always say about our Ridgefield girls is we don’t give up and we will fight o the end.”
Hapgood put Darien on the board quickly when she scored during a penalty corner at 1:10 with an assist from Hellman. The 1-0 lead set an early tone that had the Tigers chasing the Wave all night.
“It was really cool because we’ve been practicing corners for a long time,” Hapgood said. “So to score off one like that was really exciting for all of us.”
The Blue Wave made it 2-0 with 6:22 remaining in the half, when Lindsey Olson sent a long shot into the circle and Hellman tipped it past goalie Lisa Van Gompel (9 saves).
Darien again scored quickly in the second half, as Hapgood netted her second goal, with another assist from Hellman, making it 3-0 with 28:15 remaining.
Ridgefield answered with a goal from Aerin Krys on a penalty stroke with 27:44 to go, and the Tigers had some opportunities, but the Wave’s defense, led by Charlotte Domittner, Tala Garcia, Maddie Hult, and goalie Monisha Akula (3 saves), held off the attacks.
Hapgood scored the final goal, completing her hat trick, with an assist from Catie Duggan with 15:11 remaining.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ryan Hapgood, Darien. The freshman joined the varsity squad for the postseason and delivered on a huge stage, scoring three goals to help lead the Wave to the state final.
“It’s one of these games when you play for every moment and you never die. We started strong and finished strong. Scoring early was key and we kept chipping away to make it 3-0. From end to end everybody contributed as a unit.” — Darien coach Mo Minicus
DARIEN 4, RIDGEFIELD 1
RIDGEFIELD 0 1 — 1
DARIEN 2 2 — 4
Scoring: Ridgefield: Aerin Krys 1g (penalty stroke); Darien: Ryan Hapgood 3g; Molly Hellman 1g, 2a; Lindsey Olson 1a; Catie Duggan 1a.
Saves: R - Lisa Van Gompel 9; D - Monisha Akula 3.
Records: Ridgefield 16-3-0-2; Darien 20-1-1-0