GREENWICH -- With both teams challenging each other to get clear shots on goal, it was apparent that just one goal was going to decide Monday's girls hockey game between rivals Greenwich and Darien.

Not one to let a golden opportunity pass her by, Darien senior forward Sara Shaker scored the hard-to-come-by goal.

The Blue Wave senior tri-captain tallied with 11 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the third period, giving her team a 1-0 victory over Greenwich in a well played FCIAC matchup at Dorothy Hamill Skating Rink.

In a tight game where players from both teams had little room to maneuver, Shaker got loose on a breakaway, beating two defenders before knocking a rebound in off her own shot. Greenwich sophomore goalie Dart Freccia kicked away Shaker's backhanded shot, but Shaker got her stick on the rebound and slipped the puck inside the right post.

"It's nice to see the captain and one of our leaders step up and score the game-winner," Darien coach Al Gurney said. "Kudos to Greenwich. They came out strong, were scrappy and did a great job."

The Cardinals, who lost twice to Darien last season in convincing fashion, received an impressive performance from Freccia in goal and a solid defensive effort.

"That was the best hustle and hardest I've seen our team work," Greenwich first-year coach Brett Farson said. "That really went beyond the effort level that we're used to."

The Blue Wave (6-1, 4-0 FCIAC) went on the power play twice in the first period after the Cards were whistled for a pair of checking penalties, but GHS displayed an effective penalty kill. The visitors outshot Greenwich 5-2 in the first period and held a 5-3 advantage on shots in the second, but were unable to take the lead.

"We were less than happy with our performance through two periods," Gurney said. "We were doing things that were uncharacteristic for us, which was a big surprise. Again, give kudos to Greenwich."

Senior center Meghan Spezzano, senior forward Hannah Jeffrey and sophomore forward Erin Ferguson each had opportunities in the second period, but Blue Wave sophomore goalie Shannon Hall (11 saves) also rose to the occasion.

"Shannon came up big," Gurney said. "She kept us in it and was the difference."

The Cards couldn't capitalize on one of their two power play opportunities of the day shortly after Shaker scored in the third period, as Darien's special teams was also sharp, deflecting passes and blocking shots.

"It was frustrating, a lot of us had opportunities to score," said Spezzano, a tri-captain, who along with Jeffrey, saw some minutes on defense. "Even on the penalty kill, I thought we were going to sneak one in. We just need to take more shots."

Added Jeffrey: "Darien is always a fun team to play against because they are one of our rivals. They are one of the premier teams in the FCIAC, so losing by one was a positive for us."

Shaker, who along with forwards Ellie Bennett and Galen Rohn paced the Blue Wave offensively, enjoyed the excitement that came with playing in such a competitive game.

"In any sport, Greenwich and Darien are rivals, so it's nice to have that rivalry back with Greenwich this year," Shaker said. "The first two periods, we weren't playing our game, so we knew we needed to step up and do better in the third period."

Farson left the game pleased with Freccia's play between the pipes and his squad's defensive effort.

"It's a positive sign that one of their best players had to make a great play to beat us," Farson said. "Dart did real well in goal with rebound control. She is a tough athlete, who helps anchor the team."

Said Cardinals junior defenseman Emily Bacon: "We did a real good job competing for the puck. Darien has a lot of good 1-on-1 players, so we focused on keeping our eyes off the puck and on the body."

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