DARIEN -- Last Monday, the Darien girls hockey team topped Ridgefield to earn itself the No. 1 seed in this year's state tournament.
The Blue Wave almost couldn't have cared less.
All season long, they have played to win another FCIAC championship. And now, following a strong win over Wilton, they stand just one more victory over Ridgefield away from claiming the conference title.
Darien (19-2 pounded Wilton 9-0 in the second FCIAC semifinal game Wednesday night at Darien Ice Rink. Amanda Sload led the way with two goals, as seven other Blue Wave players found the back of the net. With the win, Darien now moves on to Saturday's conference championship at 12:20 p.m. at Terry Conners Ice Rink.
"The FCIACs mean so much to these kids, it actually means more than the states," Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said. "It's just one of those things where they are so motivated to win the FCIACs, it's all they talk about ¦ It would be nice to see the seniors go out on a winning note, so hopefully we can do that."
Last season, the Blue Wave sprung an upset in the FCIAC title game over archrival New Canaan, which failed to set up a rematch thanks to its overtime loss to Ridgefield the first semifinal. Darien will be the heavy favorite in the championship, having won all 15 of its FCIAC games this year. In two of those victories, the Blue Wave beat Wilton by a combined margin of 15-0.
On Wednesday, the lop-sided play continued.
Darien unleashed its potent attack on the Warriors immediately, as Sload lit the lamp just 27 seconds into the contest. Schuyler van den Broek and Hannah McClane soon followed with goals of their own that rattled home 59 seconds apart from each other. The three opening scores were all registered within the first three minutes of the game.
"This is the playoffs," Tropsa said. "They've got to play hard every time they step on the ice, and tonight they did."
The first period onslaught concluded with a Chandler Kirby score at the 5:46 mark that pushed Darien's lead to 5-0. Camped out in the high slot, Kirby wristed a loose puck into the upper right corner of the net for her fifth goal of the year.
"Our third line might've had three or four goals tonight," Tropsa said. "That's definitely a big advantage we have over a lot of teams."
Wilton (8-11-2) failed to present much of an offensive threat until the finale frame, when back-up Blue Wave goalie Izzy Scribano stopped five of the six Warrior shots on the night. Last Monday, starter Shannon Hall allowed a pair of third period goals at Ridgefield, before Darien could escape with a sloppy 3-2 victory.
The Tigers' talent up front is something Darien knows they will have to contend with on Saturday.
"They're really good," said senior defenseman Sage Thacher. "They have a couple very key players. They're very fast and get on you quickly,"
"We're not going to win if we play like we did Monday," Tropsa said. "Ridgefield will beat us."
DARIEN 5 2 2--9
WILTON 0 0 0--0
Records: Darien 19-2, Wilton 9-10-1
Goals: D--Amanda Sload 2, Schuyler van den Broek , Hannah McClane, Ellie Bennett, Sammy Nielsen, Chandler Kirby, Georgia Cassidy, Marissa Baker W--None; Assists: D--Ellie Bennett 2, Amanda Sload 2, Marissa Baker 2, Sammy Nielsen, Georgia Cassidy, Cassidy Schiff, Julia Arrix, Allegra Molkenthin, Christy Conley, Lauren Cicero W--None
Goalies: D--Shannon Hall (1 save), Izzy Scribano (5 saves); W--Brooke Jonsson (41); Shots: D--50; W--6