WEST HAVEN — And the seniors shall lead them.

Cassidy Schiff scored at 9:20 into the first overtime period to lift the Darien High School girls ice hockey team to a 4-3 triumph over Hamden High in the Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association 2017 state championship Saturday night at Bennett rink.

Darien senior goalie Emily Gianunzio (24 saves) was stout over the third period and overtime to give the Blue Wave its much-deserved second straight state title. Gianunzio was named championship game MVP.

“Last year’s squad was such a highly skilled group. We knew it would be hard to get back here again,” Gianunzio said. “Winning this title with this group means we can do anything. It wasn’t about one girl this year. We all had a part in this championship.”

Both teams were very young as Darien had three seniors on its roster while Hamden had two.

“I said early in the year we had the right seniors,” said Darien coach Jamie Tropsa. “And tonight’s result allows me to stand by that statement. It was a very different journey than last year. But this is another special group of Darien High girls.”

The smiles and joy on the Blue Wave side with the championship plaque in their hands was juxtaposed by the stunned faces on the Hamden side.

“It was a battle,” coach Tropsa said. “(No. 1 seed) Hamden is a great team that never stopped working. But our side never gave up.”

Having beaten East Catholic co-op in double overtime in the state semifinals was a great dress rehearsal for Darien’s heroics Saturday night.

“We knew what overtime felt like. We knew what we needed to do,” Darien goalie Gianunzio said. “After we lost the FCIAC final to Greenwich we vowed it wouldn’t happen again in the states. Winning titles it’s like carrying on a tradition rather than leaving a legacy at Darien High. We all worked so hard for this.”

The first period was full of end-to-end action.

Goals by Logan Book (9:44 left) and Elise Maro (7:51 left) gave Darien a 2-0 edge. However, Ariana Martin (7:36 left), Demeri Carangelo (2:36 left) and Taylor Klesyk (2:21 left) answered to give Hamden a 3-2 edge after one period.

Darien, with its three forward lines, was quicker against the pressure and strength of Hamden in the second period.

Kiki Tropsa scored with 6:17 left in the second period and eight seconds to go on a Blue Wave powerplay to forge a 3-3 tie after two stanzas.

The third period was fast and furious but both goalies — Gianunzio and Hamden junior Gianna Spino weathered the storm to force overtime at 3-3.

rdepreta@

stamfordadvocate.com

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

DARIEN 4, HAMDEN 3 (OT)

At Bennett Rink, West Haven.

DARIEN2 1 0 1—4

HAMDEN3 0 0 0—3

Goals: D — Logan Book, Elise Maro, Kiki Tropsa, Cassidy Schiff (9:20 into OT). H — Ariana Martin, Demeri Carangelo, Taylor Klesyk. Assists: D — Colleen Cassidy, Cate Droogan. H — Reilly Sargolini, Megan McKiernan, Angela Greco, Mackenzie Sargolini. Goalies: D — Emily Gianunzio (24 saves). H — Gianna Spino (17saves).