NEW CANAAN -- The effects of Hurricane Sandy were felt far and wide across Connecticut, but there was one thing the super storm couldn't do: Prevent the Darien field hockey team from capturing a share of the FCIAC Championship.
After a tumultuous week which included the cancellation of school and team practices as well as a decision to crown co-champions, Darien was finally back in game action in the FCIAC semifinals against New Canaan with a share of the FCIAC crown on the line for both teams.
"It's nice to bring it back for our town and our team," Darien captain and MVP Lexi Perticone said. "(Waiting to play) was a little stressful, so we had to do captains' practices between Kat (Huber) and I and bring everyone together. No one had power and everyone was a little flustered, but it worked well. We got it together."
Darien dominated time of possession in the first half, and Claire Culliton took advantage of a rebound for a goal that put the Blue Wave on top 1-0 with 10:58 remaining in the first half.
"The first one, I give all the credit to Kat. She hit it, it was up in the air and I happened to tip it in," Johns said. "It feels great and I'm just really proud of us for pulling out a win today."
New Canaan's Bea Eppler almost cut her team's deficit in half when she fired a hard shot at the Darien cage with just over 12 minutes remaining, but was denied on a kick save by Darien's Danica Hornick.
Less than a minute later, Johns scored her second goal for a 3-0 lead to ice the game.
"The second one was just teamwork," Johns said. "The Perticone sisters, Lexi and Hollis, worked together and brought it down the field and I was just there again."
The Wave and Rams entered play with a combined record of 29-3-2, and even though her team fell just one win shy of its preseason goal to win an FCIAC title, New Canaan coach Erin Gildea was still quick to commend her team on for making its fourth consecutive appearance in the FCIAC semifinals.
"I told them after the game that it's tough to lose, but they've had a great season and there are several teams that would really love to be in this position," New Canaan coach Erin Gildea said. "Not making any excuses at all, but it was difficult to play any team coming off of over a week off, much less Darien."
The Rams likely would have found themselves in a bigger first half hole, but several outstanding saves by goalie Emma Ball kept them in the game.
Both the Rams and Wave will play in the Class L state tournament, and the brackets are to be released Wednesday.
"I'm really happy for the girls. To regain the title in whatever way we did it was great," Darien coach Mo Minicus said. "It was very well-deserved. We felt ready. We had to get past here first, and it's one game at a time (for the state tournament)."
NEW CANAAN 0 0--0
DARIEN 2 1--3
Records: Darien (17-1-0); New Canaan (13-3-2).
Goals: D--Kyla Johns (2), Claire Culliton. Assists: D--Eliza Wisinski, Kat Huber. Goalies: NC--Emma Ball (9 saves); D--Danica Hornick (2). Shots: NC--2; D--13.