Staples edges Darien to reach FCIAC field hockey final
NORWALK — Out of breath and with a huge smile on her face Staples’ Meghan Johnson had one glaring revelation.
“We finally beat Darien.”
Led by Johnson’s two goals the second-seeded Wreckers outlasted No. 3 Darien 2-1 in the FCIAC semifinals Tuesday night at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk.
The win puts Staples in the finals Thursday against top-seeded Wilton, with whom Staples tied 0-0 in the regular season.
“I think we play them the same way,” Staples coach Ian Tapsall said of the matchup with the Warriors. “It’s been successful all year and we’ll just continue to grind and create chances. What’s shined all season is our fitness so I think the second half we play a lot better.”
What’s really shined all season is the Wreckers defense, which only allowed two goals during the regular season, one of which was to Darien, who it tied 1-1.
“As long as you don’t let them have shots or deflections you avoid problems,” Tapsall said. “This field bounces a lot so if you can stop that and get up to them then it’s a job well done—we got up on them outside the circle and didn’t let them get in to get shots set up.”
Offensively, Johnson provided all the firepower Staples needed, registering both in her tallies in almost the exact same fashion: in a scrum right in front of the net.
“We had a lot of energy in the beginning of both the first and second halves,” said Johnson, who scored four minutes into the game and then again just one minute into the second half. “And that’s what had us play with a lot of confidence, it was all team today.”
Darien was able to tie the game in the first half when Kendall Wisinski capitalized on a penalty corner in the ninth minute, but that was all the Blue Wave were able to generate offensively.
“The bottom line is we started the first half slow and we started the second half slow,” Blue Wave coach Mo Minicus said. “And that was the difference in the game. Our passing wasn’t as crisp as it normally is; I don’t know if it was the passing or receptions but the bottom line is you can’t start the game and let a goal in, can’t start a second half and let a goal in.”
The biggest bright spot for Darien came in the cage. Despite allowing the two goals senior Kalli Coughlin stood on her head for for much of the night, registering eight saves in the loss.
“Kalli had a great game,” Minicus said. “She made some huge saves and I wish we had made their goalie work a little harder too; we just had trouble getting balls to her and making her work.”
STAPLES 2, DARIEN 1
DARIEN 1 0—1
STAPLES 1 1—2
Records: Darien 12-2-2; Staples 14-0-2. Goals: D—Kendall Wisinski; S—Meghan Johnson 2. Goalies: D—Kalli Coughlin (8 saves); S—Bridget Mulloy (1). Shots: D—2; S—11.