DARIEN -- After receiving quite the scare from No. 16 Staples in the opening round of the Class L state tournament, the top-seeded Darien field hockey team left little doubt as to who would advance to the state semifinals on Monday afternoon.
Playing host to No. 9 Greenwich, the Blue Wave scored the game's first four goals -- by four different players -- en route to a 4-1 quarterfinal victory over the Cardinals. Darien will clash with No. 4 New Milford on Wednesday at a to-be-announced time and place for the right to play in the state title game. New Milford advanced by picking up a 1-0 triple-overtime victory over New Canaan on Monday.
"They started off strong, they executed and they pounced. It was a full team effort," Darien coach Mo Minicus said. "We needed every goal we got today because Greenwich is so fast. They've got really threatening forwards, and every goal put them that much farther away. I'm just happy for everybody who contributed."
Darien got off to a fast start and took the lead when Kat Huber sent a pass to Kyla Johns for a one-timer goal. Just a few minutes later, Darien boosted its lead to 2-0 on an unassisted goal by Lexi Perticone, who scored off of a rebound to give the Blue Wave a two-goal cushion just over 10 minutes into the first half.
"We took it down the left side, someone shot it, the goalie hit it out and I was there for the tip," Lexi Perticone said. "(The fast start) was the biggest thing. Yesterday we played Staples and it was a close game the whole entire time. We needed to get momentum and keep it going once we scored our first goal."
Darien took a commanding 3-0 lead with 4:57 remaining in the first half when Hollis Perticone found Claire Culliton for the marker.
The Blue Wave picked up their lone goal of the second half when Hollis Perticone scored with 21:54 remaining.
Greenwich's Emily Brash gave her team a glimmer of hope when she chipped her shot into the back of the Darien cage after receiving a pass from Elizabeth Stillman with 17:53 on the clock, but the Cardinals couldn't get any closer, despite dominating time of possession for the final 20 minutes or so.
"It's just amazing how Darien can do so well year after year because the talent is so thick and so good," Greenwich coach Allyn Orrico said. "I'm proud of the way our girls never gave up. They executed very well in the last 20 minutes. That's what we hopefully can learn from this game. We've got to be that 60-minute team that executes and plays the game for a full 60 minutes."
"It was great to have our passing game back and be able to work together and to come out with a win," Lexi Perticone said.
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DARIEN 4, GREENWICH 1
GREENWICH 0 1--1
DARIEN 3 1--4
Records: Darien (17-1-0-0); Greenwich (12-5-0-0).
Goals: D--Kyla Johns, Lexi Perticone, Claire Culliton, Hollis Perticone; G--Emily Brash Assists: D--Kat Huber, Hollis Perticone; G--Elizabeth Stillman. Goalies: D--Danica Hornick (5 saves); G--Freddie Bancroft (11). Shots: D--16; G--7.