Darien field hockey falls to Wilton in overtime of State semifinal
NEW CANAAN -- With a trip to the Class M state championship game on the line, the Darien and Wilton field hockey teams didn't disappoint the fans who braved frigid conditions at New Canaan High School Thursday night.
After 60 minutes of regulation play, the top-seeded Blue Wave and No. 4-seeded Warriors were deadlocked at 2-2, which sent the game into a sudden-victory overtime period. Wilton's Valtentina Tudisco ended the drama with 3:19 remaining in the 10-minute overtime period to advance her team to Saturday's state final against Branford. On the play, Tudisco batted a loose ball out of the air and into the net.
"It was in the air and I just batted it in. We always practice that and it came to good use and now we're in the state finals," Tudisco said. "I can't even think right now. I just want to scream. We knew we had to pull through and we did."
Tudisco's heroics would not have even been possible had it not been for the play of Wilton goalie Lizzie Roman-Johnston. Five minutes into overtime, Darien had a 2-on-1 for a shot at the game-winning goal. Lilly Cassidy and Maggie Wells executed a beautiful give-and-go, but Cassidy's shot from point-blank range was denied by Roman-Johnston.
"I thought we came out excellent in the first half, but Darien inched their way back into the game. We've talked a lot about character, playing strong and supporting each other as a team, and I think that got us through," Wilton coach Deirdre Hynes said. "It's tough to be in the game with Darien, let alone beat them."
In the first half, Wilton's Megan Ward staked her team to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals, which also represented the score at halftime.
Darien, a five-time defending state champion, wasn't about to go quietly. With just under 15 minutes remaining, Lexi Perticone found Cassidy for a one-time goal to cut the lead to 2-1.
"I'm so proud of the fight that these girls have," Darien coach Mo Minicus said. "To keep coming from behind all season and even today tying it up was amazing. I'm so proud of them. I'm sad it didn't go their way because I love the fact that they fought and came back."
More InformationFact box
Although Darien's run of five straight State titles came to an end, Mincus still sounded quite pleased with her team's season.
"We definitely fought, but it just didn't go our way," Minicus said. "We had only one returning starter, and over half the team was new varsity players, so to finish the season 19-2 [including FCIAC playoffs] is pretty amazing for this crew."