Darien holds off Wilton to clinch FCIAC playoff spot
RIDGEFIELD -- The Darien girls hockey team had four players light the lamp and held off a late Wilton charge for a 5-2 victory Monday afternoon at the Ridgefield Winter Garden.
The win locked up a spot in the four-team FCIAC playoff tournament for Darien, which currently sits in third place in the standings, behind New Canaan and Greenwich and ahead of Ridgefield.
The Blue Wave required just over five minutes of play to take a 1-0 lead when Emily Tropsa cleanly won a faceoff from the right circle back to Amanda Sload. Sload sent the puck on net and past Wilton netminder Vanessa Pagano for the early tally.
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"I saw there was an opening, so I was thinking I would send the puck at the net, thinking we could get a rebound, and it went in," Sload said. "We're going to meet some tough opponents in Ridgefield and New Canaan in the FCIACs and States; there are going to be some tough games, so it was great to get this under our belt."
With players from each team scrambling in front of the Wilton goal, Darien doubled its lead with 4:17 remaining in the opening stanza when Sammy Nielson lifted a short range shot into the net. Nathalie Shindler and Allegra Molkenthin were credited with assists on the play.
Fifty-nine seconds into the second period, Molkenthin notched a goal of her own after taking in a pass from Christy Conley, who sent a deft pass across the goal crease for the one-timer.
Less than five minutes later, Sara Shaker scored after receiving a pass from Tropsa to give Darien its largest lead of the day at 4-0.
Wilton found its way onto the scoreboard with 4:37 remaining in the second period when Nicole Lue scored her first of two goals. Lue received a pass from Perri Blicht, skated in front of the net and unleashed a quick wrist shot to beat Darien goalie Izzy Scribano.
Just over five minutes into the third period, Erin O'Connell sent a pass to Lue, who again lit the lamp to cut Darien's lead to 4-2.
With 2:47 remaining in the contest, Shaker scored her second goal to seal the game and an FCIAC playoff spot. Julia Arrix assisted on the play.
Scribano earned the win between the pipes by turning aside 14 of 16 Wilton shots. According to Scribano, the combination of early Blue Wave goals and strong defensive play made her job far easier.
"We played really well. We're in FCIACs for sure and everyone's happy. [The early lead] is definitely a big help, especially for confidence," Scribano said. "I held down the net and my team definitely helped me. The defense is amazing, our forwards scored and it was just a great game."
Wilton, which currently sits in fifth place in the FCIAC standings, needs a win to help its fading FCIAC playoff chances in its next conference game against Ridgefield at the Ridgefield Winter Garden on Saturday at 8:50 p.m.
With its playoff ticket punched, Darien's focus is maintaining -- or perhaps improving -- its seed when it takes on Greenwich at the Darien Ice Rink at 6:50 p.m. on Saturday. Finishing in fourth place would force the Blue Wave to face off against undefeated New Canaan in the first round of FCIACs.
"For us, [clinching] is one step. The next step is to get a second or third spot," Darien coach Al Gurney said. "Obviously when you start the season that's one of your team's goals. We wanted to qualify for FCIACs and States and take it from there."