DARIEN -- It wasn't until about the mid-point of the opening half that Darien High School's field hockey team put one in the back of the cage, but it was only a matter of time before the Class L state tournament's top seed would seize control en route to a 7-0 first-round victory over visiting Westhill on Wednesday.

With the win, Darien (16-1-1-0) advances to host the winner of No. 8 Hall and No. 9 Conard, on Friday at 2 p.m. Westhill ends its season with an 8-9-1-0 mark.

Georgia Cassidy's unassisted tally got the Wave rolling. Darien went on to score three more times in the first half for a 4-0 halftime lead, and kept scoring early in the second half.

"Once we got the first one in the net I think we were able to settle it and get into our groove," Darien coach Mo Minicus said.

After Cassidy's goal, Hollis Perticone assisted Marissa Baker, and Cassidy then set up Elizabeth Feingold for the first of her two tallies. Claire Culliton capped the scoring before the break.

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The Wave kept rolling early in the second half. Perticone scored unassisted, Baker made a nice centering feed to assist Eliza Wisinski and Feingold capped the onslaught with a goal set up by Jackie Brokaw.

As much as Minicus was pleased with the outcome, the coach feels her team needs to get off to better starts in games as the tournament unfolds.

"We ended strong. I think it was a very slow start to the game," said the Darien coach, adding that she wasn't sure of the reason for the slow start, but indicated the early dismissal altered the team's usual pregame locker room approach.

Minicus said her team was a little too casual out of the gates, and hopes for a more aggressive beginning in the next game.

"Every game's going to get harder," Minicus said.

"Every game can be our last so we really have to keep peaking in each game," said Perticone, one of the team's senior captains.

The Blue Wave peppered the Westhill goal with 35 shots, and Vikings goaltender Katherine Kelly came up with 17 saves. The Vikings managed just two shots on goal. Darien goalies Danika Hornick and Kaeleigh Morrill each made a save.

The Wave finished the game with a 9-1 advantage in penalty corners. Although the team didn't manage to score off one of those inserts, Perticone was pleased with how Darien moved the ball to set up chances.

"I think we definitely were executing corners. That's something we've been working on a lot," Perticone said.

Westhill coach Kevin DeAngelo was pleased with his team's effort, especially given that the Vikings kept their opponents off the scoreboard throughout much of the first half.

The Vikings knew to expect a difficult game, and not just because of Darien's stature and seeding. The perennial FCIAC and state powerhouse defeated Westhill twice before the state tourney clash, "which makes it even harder to keep the morale high," DeAngelo said.

The Blue Wave are thinking championship but are not looking past their next opponent.

"We're just trying really hard to play each game one at a time and try to make it to the finals," senior captain Mollie Riegel said.

Darien 7, Westhill 0

DARIEN 4 3 -- 7

WESTHILL 0 0 -- 0

Records: D -- 15-1-1-0; WH -- 7-9-1-0

Goals: D -- Libby Feingold, Marissa Baker, Georgia Cassidy, Hollis Perticone, Eliza Wisinski. Assists: D -- Perticone, Cassidy, Baker, Jackie Brokaw, Gabriella Noto. Goalies: D -- Danika Hornick (1 save), Kaeleigh Morrill (0 saves); WH -- Katherine Kelly (11 saves)