Darien captures state title
WEST HAVEN—Saturday night at Bennett Rink in West Haven the Connecticut high school girls hockey season came full circle.
Back on Dec. 12 Darien and the East Catholic/Glastonbury/South Windsor co-op opened the season with the Blue Wave taking a 2-1 victory. Almost three months later that would be the same matchup, and score, that made Darien state champions for the first time since 2009.
“Hats off to both teams,” Darien coach Jamie Tropsa said. “They got a hell of a girls program there, they’re doing a great job with it and our seniors stood up, as simple as it is.”
In the first, to no one’s surprise, star senior forward Georgia Cassidy scored a power-play goal to give the top-ranked Blue Wave a 1-0 lead.
The second however, No. 2 ETB would come out buzzing, creating chance after chance until four minutes in Margaret Hallisey was able to capitalize on a Maddison Bishop shot that got through Darien goalie Emily Gianunzio and was sitting on the goal line for the taking.
It would only take three minutes for Darien to strike back.
“This was my last game, this is all I get so I went to the net,” Baker said. “She took a shot and there was a rebound and I was kind of falling down and just threw the puck at the net and luckily it went in.”
For the rest of the second ETB would again have the upper hand, but wasn’t able to beat Gianunzio again.
“We got caught in a couple long shifts,” Tropsa said, “… Emily made some great saves and we got the job done when we had to.”
As the period expired ETB had bounced several pucks off Gianunzio and it was still loose as the buzzer sounded, resulting in an emphatic fist-pump from the junior goaltender.
“While it was happening I didn’t realize it was the end of the period,” Gianunzio said. “Once the buzzer sounded I was probably the happiest I’ve been in my entire life, I feel like I celebrated just as hard then as at the end of the game.”
She had just as much reason to at the end of the third as ETB went on a power play with a minute and a half remaining in the contest. After calling a timeout and pulling its goalie, ETB had a six-on-four advantage to close out the contest.
Despite controlling possession, ETB once again could not break through — the best chance coming with 15 seconds left when a puck hit the cross bar.
“I don’t know how we didn’t score, we worked really hard there at the end and had some good looks, but the goalie stopped them and we hit the post,” ETB coach Frank Usseglio said. “They earned it because we didn’t make it easy on them, that’s a good hockey team, there’s a reason why they didn’t lose in Connecticut but I’m proud of my team, they played like defending champions.”
ETB tied in the championship game a season ago with Simsbury and despite the loss, Usseglio hopes Satuday’s game is an example of where girls hockey in Connecticut is headed.
“All I can say is it was a game worthy of the championship,” Usseglio said. “It’s a great game for girls ice hockey and I hope people in the state support it and more schools give the girls a chance to play — like these girls on the ice today got a chance.”
DARIEN 2, EAST CATHOLIC CO-OP 1
EAST CATHOLIC CO-OP 0 1 0—1
DARIEN 1 1 0—2
Goals: ETB: Margaret Hallisey; D—Georgia Cassidy, Marissa Baker. Assists: ETB—Maddison Bishop; D—Chandler Kirby. Goalies: ETB: Morgan Peters (20 saves); D—Emily Gianunzio (20). Shots: ETB—21; D—22.